Post release Notes on Android 2.2: Froyo (Part II)
Android 2.2 betters on runtime performance, enterprise capability, exchange calendars, data back-up and cloud to device messaging services.
Android 2.2 includes a new just-in time compiler which Google claims improves application performance by two to five times compared with Android 2.1 using the same hardware. It is clear that Google views the capability of application runtime is central to the long-term success of the platform. Android is extending across a diverse range of hardware, so performance needs to reside on a consistent basis within the software stack rather than requiring hardware acceleration or changes to device specifications.
Froyo also improves Android’s enterprise capability following the addition of support for Microsoft Exchange Server in Android 2.0. The latest update extends the number of features supported with a particular emphasis on security and device management. Additions include remote wipe support and the ability to enforce password policies over the air.
In addition, Exchange calendars are now supported within the native Android calendar, and configuration has been simplified with auto-discovery only needing an e-mail address and a password to set up an account (on Exchange 2007 and beyond). Global address book look-up is also included.
Although these are vital improvements, Android still falls some distance behind RIM and even Apple as an enterprise-class platform. However, personal devices are increasingly making their way into organizations, and a fuller suite of business-friendly features will mean Android will also start to enter corporate networks as the iPhone has done.
Developers at the event reacted very favourably to two new services and their corresponding APIs. The first of these is a data back-up feature, which ensures application data as well as the application itself are backed up to a Google ID in the cloud. This means previously downloaded applications and associated data can be restored to a device over the air.
The second service — cloud-to-device messaging — is among the most interesting features in Froyo. The messaging service enables developers to build Web-based functions that communicate directly with an Android device. A demonstration showed a location in Google Maps viewed in the Chrome browser on a PC sent via Google’s server and pushed down to a device. Similarly, a Web page was sent straight from Chrome on a PC to an Android handset. This will prove highly attractive to users at a basic level for content synchronization between different devices but also offers huge potential for developers, particularly given the recent announcement of Google TV. The cloud-to device messaging API will allow developers to create applications that remain synchronized across a wide range of devices.