This week Google took another step towards world dominance. Well, ok, maybe not but they put Apple on notice that their one man show can’t expect to just do whatever they want anymore.
With the revelation of version 2.2 of the Android OS (AKA Froyo), Google is stepping up to the plate in more than one way and are showing that Apple are not the only ones that can innovate and get a crowd excited.
The features of Froyo were known to some extent before this week but for those that may have missed it, here’s a quick peek at some of the highlights:
- Flash 10.1 support – this is easily the most talked about feature of Froyo. With Apple telling Adobe to go take a hike, Adobe turned to Google and Apple now faces a tag team of two powerful companies, both out to eat Apple’s lunch in one way or another. Although much can be said about Flash and it’s image as a resource hog, Froyo has been optimized to such an extent that Flash seems to run just fine. Let’s not forget that Adobe AIR is also part of this whole scheme of pushing Flash onto the Android.
- New market place – the Market has always been one of my gripes. On 1.5, it doesn’t look very good and it lacks good organization. 2.1 has an updated Market already and it can only get better.
- Speech recognition – although I’m not a huge speech feature user, I know that many are. The older versions of Android lacks in this aspect and it will be good to see some improvement on such a basic functionality. It really shouldn’t have taken them this long anyway.
- Exchange integration – my Hero already has this courtesy of HTC and I’m surprised Android is still behind on this. For wider enterprise adoption, Exchange support is a must have and they really need to get with the program on that one.
- Installing apps on SD card – most app addicts will without doubt recount the many times they’ve had to uninstall or backup an app just to clear up space. Installing apps on an SD card is something Windows Mobile has been able to do for year and it’s really about time that Android adds the same functionality.
- OTA music sync – by launching what will without a doubt be a direct competitor to any online service Apple launches with iTunes, Google is first out of the gate with this kind of service.
There are naturally quite a few more but the above ones are the ones that caught my eye. Google is showing that they can innovate just as much as Apple can and with 2.2 they have really become a real challenger to the iPhone brand.
Questions still remain for me though. Yes version 2.2 is awesome and will without a doubt kick butt but many current Android users will never be able to partake of the frozen feast because their phones are too old and won’t be supported by the manufacturers. HTC has said that phones released this year will get the upgrade but that leaves the Eris, the Hero and others from last year and before stuck at 2.1 or less.
The other thing that always strikes me about Google is when they talk about how closed Apple is and how dictatorial they seem, Google is quite big themselves and have done some pretty silly things themselves. We may not like Apple and their iPhone dominance but we need to be careful what we wish for. Android and Apple is good competition but a super-dominant Android isn’t necessarily good either.
Regardless, Android 2.2 is coming and it’s great! For now, Google is the white (or green) knight fighting against the Apple dragon.