Tag Archives: Froyo

Android 3.0 aka Gingerbread gets detailed, gels well with our theory

30 Jun

Eldar Murtazin strikes again! The editor of Russian site Mobile Review and the guy who gets the dope before even many product managers inside companies has just detailed Google’s plans for Android 3.0 aka Gingerbread in a podcast. While we are no native Russian speakers but thankfully our good friends at Unwired View are and they have translated his podcast.



If Murtazin is to be believed (we believe him), Google will for the first time release a minimum spec requirement for Android 3.0. Of course, modders will hack and port it into devices with lower specs but essentially any phone to run Gingerbread needs to have at least a 1 GHz processor, 512 MB RAM and at least a 3.5 inch display. If the requirements sound familiar, well these are almost the same that Microsoft wants in phones running Windows Phone 7 OS.



Google will be announcing Gingerbread sometime in October (Murtazin claims October 15 or 16), with first devices ready to hit shelves in time for holiday shopping. Gingerbread will also come with a new UI throughout menus that would leave handset vendor skins like HTC’s Sense UI and Motorola’s Blur useless, but we doubt if Google would bar vendors from adding their own skins, like Microsoft has done with Windows Phone 7.



Google is also working on making the OS work with devices having displays bigger than 4.0 inches and resolutions as high as 1280×760 pixels, which means that Android might finally do more, much more, on an Internet Tablet device.



So essentially, what we have over here is that Gingerbread would be the OS for high-end Android phones, while lesser mortals would go as far as Android 2.2 aka Froyo. This is exactly what I had written in a post almost a month back:

Considering that there are all sorts of phones at all possible price points and hardware configuration, it would help Google (and Android) if it classified which categories of phones run on which version of Android. This could be based on the processor/memory configuration of the phone. What this would do is ensure that the highest-end segment of phones run on the most advanced OS version while the phones in the lower-end of the spectrum run on a more basic/lite version that gives most features but skips the processor-intensive stuff. By doing this, users will get a more refined user experience suited to their choice of hardware, which has been one of the main reason for the iPhone’s success. It would also mean that developers will be able to target high-end devices with better quality apps.

Well, it seems like Android might finally come of age this holiday season!

Google uses remote kill switch to wipe off an app from Android phones

25 Jun

Man that’s a hell lot of stuff Google is doing. First, Google’s Andy Rubin aka the Droid-Man, announced that they are activating about 160,000 Android devices a day or roughly two devices every second. Then they made the code for Android 2.2 (Froyo) open source, which means that we will finally see the latest Android OS being delivered to Android devices. Yup, the Nexus One over-the-air update has already begun.



However, the biggest use from Googleplex has been their use of a remote kill switch to wipe off an application from Android phones.

“Recently, we became aware of two free applications built by a security researcher for research purposes. These applications intentionally misrepresented their purpose in order to encourage user downloads, but they were not designed to be used maliciously, and did not have permission to access private data — or system resources beyond permission.INTERNET. As the applications were practically useless, most users uninstalled the applications shortly after downloading them. After the researcher voluntarily removed these applications from Android Market, we decided, per the Android Market Terms of Service, to exercise our remote application removal feature on the remaining installed copies to complete the cleanup.”

Now why would Google make such a big fuss about an app that did nothing and probably was not installed in more than a few dozen phones? I think it has more to do with Google telling users that Android is a safe platform and Google has control over the Android Market since critics have been raising questions about how secure Android is considering that virtually anyone can easily get their app on the Market and hence, into the phones of millions of unsuspecting Android users.

“The remote application removal feature is one of many security controls Android possesses to help protect users from malicious applications. In case of an emergency, a dangerous application could be removed from active circulation in a rapid and scalable manner to prevent further exposure to users. While we hope to not have to use it, we know that we have the capability to take swift action on behalf of users’ safety when needed.”

Instead of demonstrating how Google can remotely wipe some nondescript app (notice that Google has not revealed any details of the ‘researcher’ in question or even the name of the app), it would serve both Google and users of Android phones if Google spent more time ensuring that only genuine apps pass through into the market and cr-apps or malware stays out. Yes, Android is supposed to be an open world, but I don’t things users will mind if the streets are kept clean.

Moto Droid 2 for Verizon poses for pictures at NASA tech event

18 Jun

We ain’t sure how this is happening but on a day when Verizon Wireless put up a page for the Droid X without issuing any press release, elsewhere at a NASA tech event its representatives were busy showing off the Droid 2. A Gizmodo reader noticed the device and proceeded to click some pictures of the device.



So here’s what the Droid 2 (or Milestone 2 in India or whatever it will be called) is all about:



A new dark chrome finish with smoother edges.
A 1 GHz processor
A new more spacious keyboard without the D-pad and a new voice command key
8 GB of internal memory
Still has a 5.0 MP camera
Currently runs Android 2.1 but will be updated to Android 2.2



Head over to Gizmodo to check out some more shots of the phone.

Motorola Droid X gets real, shows up on Verizon Wireless

17 Jun

We all knew it was coming but no one could have guessed it was coming so soon. We are talking about the Droid X aka the Droid XTREME, the second generation of Motorola’s Droid series of Android phones (better known to us this side of the world as the Milestone). What’s surprising, however, is that Verizon has simply flashed it on its site rather than issuing a kick ass press release and telling the world what it is all about. The new iPhone, after all, goes on sale in a week and what could have been better than releasing a lean, mean, Android beast on a network that is better than the iPhone’s home in the US.



Verizon does not reveal anything about the Droid X that we don’t already know about. The phone will have a 4.3 inch display, 720p HD recording and HDMI out. What we don’t know at the moment is whether it will run Android 2.2 or Android 2.1. We have a hunch that this beast will run Android 2.2.



Hmm, seems like a good deal to us but it won’t be long before the Droid 2 is announced and that’s when we will take a call on which one to pick up.

Android to become an audiophile pretty soon, to compete with iTunes and Apple

21 May

Last evening’s Google I/O keynotes threw in a few pleasant surprises. Yeah, we knew what was coming up (Froyo, what else?) and also some of the new features that the new OS will bring to the table, but Google did a pretty cool job of hiding some super cool stuff. And one of them was how Android will handle music and specifically, take on Apple in the near future.


The first surprise was the inclusion of a music section in Android Market. Or in other words, a music store within Android’s application store. What’s more, users will be able to search and download songs from their desktops and those songs will automatically get downloaded on the user’s Android phone(s).


But for us, the bigger surprise was an application that would allow users to have all DRM-free songs stored on their PC available on their Android phones remotely. This has been made posssible by Google’s acquisition of a company called Simplify Media. We are not sure whether it stores all the songs in the cloud and downloads them on demand on the phone or whether the PC needs to remain functioning and connected to the Internet all the time.


Both these features are not yet available and Google says that these will be made available soon.


Android users, including us, have often cribbed about the pathetic music player onboard. Probably, this could very well be what the doctor ordered and could make Apple do some tweaking with its iTunes software on which it relies not only for music but even apps.

Google announces Android 2.2 aka Froyo, here's what you need to know

20 May

As expected, Google today announced the next version of Android – OS 2.2 – aka Froyo. The new OS brings forth five major improvements and some cool surprises in tow. So without much adieu, here’s what Froyo brings to the table.

It’s faster: Froyo now comes with a new Dalvik Just In Time Compiler or JIT that will offer two to five times performance improvement compared to Eclair or Android 2.1. For laymen, it’s simply faster when you use any application or game.

New home screen: Froyo also comes with a new home screen that has a tips widgets for new users to familiarise them with the platform. This is a thoughtful addition considering that we have seen many new users scratching their heads trying to figure out how to do even the simplests of tasks. Also new on the homescreen is a new quick launcher on the bottom to access the phone, app launcher or browser. This quick launcher will be accessible on all five home screens. Nothing ground breaking over here, yet very thoughtful additions.

Improved Exchange support: Yeah, we can see many of you suited-booted kinds getting excited now. Well, Froyo brings better Exchange support with the ability to sync calendars, global address lists while sending e-mails, remote wipe and in general, improved security with regards to passwords. It will also automatically discover your acounts settings and you only need to know your user name and password. (This last feature is available for Exchange 2007 and higher.)

Camera and Gallery: The camera has a new UI for onscreen buttons for controling zoom, flash, white balance, geo-tagging, focus and exposure. Camcorder also provides an easy way to set video size/quality for MMS and YouTube. Now, LED flash has been enabled for video recording.

Portable Hotspot: Yup, you can now tether your phone to a PC or convert the phone’s data service into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Improved browser performance: The Froyo browser is two-three times faster than the Eclair (Android 2.1 browser). In fact, Google is calling it the fastest mobile browser in the world and demonstrated how fast it is compared to the Apple iPad.

The browser will also support HTML5 and comes with support for orientation, speech and camera. So if you are on Google Maps on the browser, you would be able to navigate by changing the orientation of the phone. With speech support you’d be able to search Google by voice directly from the browser and with camera, click pictures and update them on buzz without ever leaving the camera. This would work with other web apps that use HTML5 standards. Google is betting big on webapps, and think that with HTML5, they will be bigger than native apps. Perhaps, they forgot to tell that to Apple.

Improved app management: You will be able to move apps to SD card without any noticable performance lag. What’s more, you can even set certain apps to auto-update on their own and the rest you can update all at one go. Searching for apps has been simplified with a home screen search widget, which is very similar to how Apple does on the iPhone. Also, app developers will be able to retain user’s data stored on apps when users change their device.

Bluetooth improvements: Lot of people have complained about Bluetooth performance on Android devices. Well, Froyo will enable voice dialling over Bluetooth, transferring contacts over Bluetooth and better support with Bluetooth accessories.

Adobe Flash 10.1 support: The preceding words say it all, need we elaborate?

And finally, a video of Froyo!

What to expect from Android 2.2 aka Froyo

12 May

Android is getting an update next week at Google’s I/O developer’s event. The new version, Android 2.2 aka Froyo (Frozen Yogurt) will be shown off (officially) for the first time. We have seen glimpses of stuff that Google is working upon in the past couple of months and have heard a few whispers of what can be expected in the new OS. So just for a headsup, here’s what you can expect the green robot to do later this month.

 

Flash 10.1: This is going to be the killer feature for Froyo – full support for Adobe Flash and not just Flash Lite. We had seen it working at MWC earlier this year. We have also seen tablets running Adobe AIR (with NVIDIA’s Tegra platform) so we won’t rule out an Android tablet announcement either.

 

Automatic app updates: One thing that we do not like about Android Market is it does not inform the user when there are updates to apps that are already installed on the device, like how Apple’s App Store does. With Froyo, Android would go a step further (or so we hear) and offer automatic app updates. The update will be downloaded and installed in the background without any user intervention. We are not convinced if that is really a good thing but we will wait and watch of how this pans out.

 

Install apps on memory card: At the moment, Android Market apps can only be installed on the phone’s internal memory. This can be challenging considering that most Android smartphones have under 200 MB of internal memory. Developers too, have to size down their apps and it is one of the reasons why we have not seen many graphics-rich games getting developed for Android, unlike the iPhone on which games are among the top-grossing apps.

 

More games on Android: With better resource management and resulting hardware performance, as well as the ability to save apps on external storage, we expect more games to be available for Android. We won’t be surprised to see at least one high-profile game studio backing Android at the event.

Other than these, there will certainly be some more UI tweaks and probably some more markets where Google will start retailing the Nexus One. Having said that, every major OS update has also witnessed a new flagship device launch in the past. So there is no reason why one should not be one new device announcement to coincide with Froyo announcement.

 

Image courtesy: Arizonafoothillsmagazine.com