UPDATE (5/25/2010, 3:29 PM EDT): Is your phone eligible for Android 2.2? Find out in our guide to compatible phones!
As expected, Google officially introduced Android 2.2 today at their I/O developer conference in California. The new release adds a number of widely-speculated features, including performance enhancements for applications, WiFi tethering and official support for storing applications on a phone’s microSD card.
Google has confirmed that late model devices like the HTC Nexus One, Motorola Droid, HTC EVO 4G, HTC Desire and HTC Incredible are scheduled to get the update soon.
However, no mention was made of older devices like the Hero, Eris or Moment, all of which likely hit the end of their rope with recent updates to Android 2.1; future updates to these phones appear to depend on the efforts of the homebrew ROM community.
UPDATE: We reported that the Nexus One would be eligible for an OTA update to FroYo today based on an initial report from Phonescoop. This information has since proven untrue. As we strive for accuracy here at Icrontic, our story has been updated to suit. For now, we know that “some devices will get the update in the coming weeks.” We apologize for the error. -Ed
Adobe Flash: confirmed
Android 2.2 comes bundled with Adobe Flash 10.1, the latest and greatest version of Flash. Handsets running Android 2.2 will have full access to the web’s flash content, including websites like Kongregate, PopCap games and Farmville.
Hulu is another big name at the top of everyone’s list when Flash is mentioned, but they’ve decided to sit this one out. Hulu has blocked Android 2.2’s Flash player citing copyright concerns; their content providers don’t want to be seen on any device but the desktop.
UPDATE: It is confirmed that Flash support requires a handset with a processor comparable to or better than the ARM Cortex-A8. In other words, every mobile prior to the Droid is off the table.
Applications on microSD: confirmed
If there is no space available for applications in an Android 2.2 handset’s onboard ROM, the applications will be automatically installed to your microSD card.
Just In Time compiler: confirmed
Android 2.2 comes packaged with a little piece of code called the just in time (JIT) compiler. A JIT compiler will increase the speed of Android and its applications by translating their code into a form that’s much faster for your phone to run.
The JIT compiler will help Android 2.2-powered handsets run 2-5x faster than the same model running Android 2.1
WiFi tethering: confirmed
Using a phone’s unlimited data plan, Android 2.2 handsets can use their WiFi chips like a wireless router to provide Internet to nearby wireless devices. It is not yet known if carriers intend to charge extra for this feature, but it is rather likely.
USB tethering: confirmed
Faster than WiFi, USB tethering turns your phone into a surprisingly snappy modem that can make quick work of basic web browsing. Like WiFi tethering, it is not yet known if carriers plan to charge for the feature but, again, it is rather likely.
Browsing speed boost
Users running FroYo can now configure any and all applications they have installed to automatically update themselves when a new version is available in the Android Marketplace. This auto-updating functionality is completely discretionary, and configured on a per-app basis. Users will also have access to an “Update All” button that updates every installed application.
Google also announced an online Marketplace, which allows users to browse Android applications from their desktop and then push them OTA to their Android handset.
OpenGL ES 2.0 improvements: confirmed
Google has announced several new APIs in Android 2.2 that better leverage a phone’s 3D graphics chip. It is not yet known how developers plan to make use of these changes.
Improved camera software
Android 2.2 revamps the camera’s user interface to support one-handed operation. A new series of radial menus and dials auto-rotate with the phone, and have taken the place of the old UI.
Revamped Google Voice Search
Google has put considerable work into refining the Google Voice Search experience. Where voice searching on Android 2.1 often produced inaccurate gibberish, demonstrations of the technology on Android 2.2 produced accurate results for complex phrases like “Barack Obama at the G8 Summit.”
Thanks to Google’s acquisition of Simplify Media, users will be able to stream their DRM-free music to their Android 2.2 handsets. The same streaming technology can evidently be used to push music and videos OTA as well.