Hands-on With Android 2.2 (Froyo) and Flash 10.1

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Google’s I/O Conference kicks off Day 2 with the official unveiling of Android 2.2 aka Froyo. We’ve had a review build of 2.2 with full Flash 10.1 support on a Nexus One for under a week. Here’s what we found.

The bump from Android 2.1 to 2.2 isn’t as significant as the bump from 1.6 to 2.0. There’s been a slight UI tweak and a handful of feature enhancements. Full support for Flash 10.1 is the biggest feature enhancement to come from outside Google but it’s far from perfect. That’s not meant to be a dig on Adobe at all. But more on that later.

(More on Techland: Android Gingerbread Slated For Q4 2010)

From what I can tell based on the review unit, the following are the new things in 2.2. Google declined pre-briefs ahead of the announcement so I will likely make changes throughout the announcement.

• The Google Search bar is now universal. In other words, you can search through everything on your device including apps, contacts, music, etc. Users can also opt to search just the Web, Apps or Contacts. It’s a bit redundant but I don’t have too many contacts on this particular device other than what’s being pulled in from my Gmail and Facebook accounts.

• The Launcher now includes shortcuts to the browser and phone dialer.

• Added support for Exchange that now includes Calendar and Contact sync. Other than that I’m not sure what else is included in this area. Syncing my e-mail account would wipe the device, which means I’d most likely lose the installed Adobe Flash 10.1 app.

• Support for USB tethering and portable Wi-Fi hotspot is pretty wicked. Setup is a breeze. But it Android does not support USB tethering for Mac OS X. It only supports Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Linux. Turning your Android device into a hotspot kills your ability to run apps that connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi. And there’s no shortcut.

• Under Settings, Sound & Display have been split. No clue why.

• Text-to-Speech is now Voice input & output. You can now tweak the voice recognizer settings – input language, SafeSearch (basically a filter for GIS results) and you can block offensive words. The previous Text-to-Speech settings can be found under the Voice output menu within Voice input & output.

• Users can enable a sound when the device is docked.

Updates from I/O

• Oh, and you can move apps over to an SD card. Finally!

• Update all apps is finally here, too. You can also allow for automatic updating to all apps.

• OTA app downloads via your desktop have also been enabled.

• Remote wipe for enterprise.

• Just-in-time compilation for 2-5x speed boost for apps.

• 2-3x boost in Javascript performance.

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