Speedy Android 2.2 hits with tethering, push framework, more

Google logoAt the Google I/O developer conference today in San Francisco, the search giant unveiled Android 2.2, codenamed Froyo. The new version introduces some impressive performance improvements and much-needed feature enhancements.

Vic Gundotra, Google VP of engineering, discussed Android's progress and introduced the new version of the platform during a keynote presentation on the second day of the event. In the past 18 months, Android has attracted 21 hardware makers and 60 carriers in 40 countries. There are now over 60 compatible Android devices, which are rapidly increasing in popularity. Google says that over 100,000 new Android devices are activated every day.

Android is a Java-based platform, but it uses its own custom runtime engine and bytecode format. Unlike the conventional JRE, Android's Java runtime is basically an interpreter—it just executes the bytecode. One of the most significant improvements in Froyo is the introduction of a just-in-time (JIT) compilation engine that will allow the runtime to translate bytecode into native code at runtime.

The introduction of a JIT will bring a massive performance boost, increasing application execution speed by up to five times. This will improve the general responsiveness of the platform and allow application developers to build more computationally intensive software.

Another area where Google has made major investments in performance is the Android Web browser. The company has brought its recent optimization work on the V8 JavaScript engine to Froyo, leading to a 3x speedup. The company contends that Froyo has the "world's fastest mobile browser." To back up this claim, Google conducted a demo during the keynote which showed a Froyo-powered Nexus One crushing the iPad in a SunSpider JavaScript benchmark.

Enterprise, cloud, and tethering

In addition to performance improvements, Android has also gained a number of impressive new features. In an effort to boost Android's competitiveness in the business market, Google has added some enterprise-specific enhancements, including broad support for Microsoft exchange. Another major addition is a new data backup API for third-party applications, which will make it easier for users to keep all of their application data when they move to a new device.

The early Android previews had an XMPP-based push messaging framework, but it was cut during the beta test period due to reliability issues and was not present in version 1.0. Google has finally filled that hole in Froyo with a new cloud messaging API. The new cloud messaging service doesn't just push notifications, however. Third-party applications can transmit Android "Intents" to a device, meaning that the push messages can be used to activate applications and populate them with certain data.

Source: ars technica

Tags: Android, Google, mobile phones

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