Android 2.2 Screenshots: My Favorite Features in Froyo

May 23, 2010

Android 2.2 (code-named "Froyo," the next alphabetical installment of dessert-named releases after Cupcake, Donut, and Eclair) is now rolling out to Nexus One handsets. If you're tired of tapping and re-tapping the System Update menu item and getting nothing, you can update your N1 to 2.2 manually. Lifehacker runs down how. This method worked perfectly on my T-Mobile Nexus One, but I hear reports it does not work for the AT&T Nexus One. The manual update method does NOT work for the Droid, EVO, or any other Android handset that I know of. (Correct me if I'm wrong in the comments.)

Android 2.2 has three marquee features: built-in tethering/portable hotspot capabilities, Flash support, and noticeably sped-up JavaScript performance in the web browser. (Update: Oh yeah, there's Microsoft Exchange support, too.) There are several more subtle interface improvements as well. Perhaps my favorite is the most simple: a revamped homescreen dock, which you can see at the bottom of the screenshot here. (Click to enlarge.) It gives you one-tap access to the three things you want to get to on your phone quickly: the dialer, your apps, and your web browser. Compare this screenshot to Android 2.1's homescreen.

Come on in to see more screenshots of my favorite Froyo features.

Click on any image to enlarge it to full size.

Portable Hotspot and USB Tethering

Froyo obviates the need for an application like PdaNet or rooting Android to use your phone's data connection to get online with your laptop. You can get your laptop, iPod touch, or iPad online via Android 2.2 by turning your phone into a portable hotspot ala the MiFi. Enable your portable hotspot in the Wireless settings area. Name your access point, optionally assign a WPA2 PSK password, and any Wi-Fi enabled device in the area will be able to see and connect to it. I'm not sure what any provider-imposed limitations on this are, but up to 8 devices can connect to the Froyo access point.

USB tethering--that is, using your phone as a modem to get online--is available on Windows and Linux (not the Mac). Windows XP users have to download a driver; Windows 7, Vista, and Linux users are good to go by just enabling tethering on the phone and connecting it via the USB cable to your computer.


Select Text on Web Pages, in Email

While it's not as well-implemented as the iPhone OS's select text feature is, in Froyo you can now select text that's not in a text field and copy it to clipboard. Gmail and the browser are the only two apps I've seen this available in, but hopefully there will be more to come.

On either a web page or in email, to select text, hit the settings menu and tap "More." (Yes, already it's too many steps.) Choose "Select text" from the menu, as shown.



You'll notice a little mouse pointer on screen. Tap and drag your finger around the text you want to select, which will turn pink, as shown. When you're done, text gets copied to the clipboard automatically.

This process is too buried in the Settings menu and involves too many steps right now, but it's better than nothing.


Flash Support

A beta of the Flash 10 browser plug-in for Froyo is available in the Android Market; search for Flash there to download it. It works just the way you'd expect. With the plug-in enabled, you'll see Flash-based ads and embedded video and be able to play games. I played Google's homepage Pac-Man on my N1, and with the Flash plug-in enabled I could hear the game's music (which is the only part of it that involves Flash). I could play YouTube videos on-page. However, despite some tinkering, I couldn't get a Hulu or Vimeo video to play. On Hulu I got a "your device isn't supported" message, and Vimeo told me I needed to download Flash 10. So, Adobe's Flash 10 plug-in for Android 2.2 is indeed beta.



If you don't necessarily want to see every Flash bit of every web page, you can change your settings to enable Flash on demand. To do so, in the Browser's Settings panel, tap "Enable plug-ins." There, if you choose "On demand," when you visit a page with Flash content you have to tap it to activate the Flash plug-in. I haven't done much Flash testing yet to get a handle on battery usage and performance, but I imagine the "On demand" setting will be a battery-saver for Flash users.


Gmail Auto-Advance

In the native Gmail client, you can easily move to older or newer conversations using left and right arrow buttons at the bottom of an open message. You can also configure Gmail to auto-advance to older or newer conversations when you delete or archive a particular message. To do so, in Gmail's settings, tap on "Auto-advance."


Drop-out Menus

The Android Google search box--which I use constantly--now has a menu that drops out from the G logo which lets you narrow down your search results by type. Android 2.1 introduced this visual style of menu on people inside Gmail and in the contacts list; nice to see it extend to other UI controls.


Improved Application Manager

Froyo's Application Manager (Settings>Manage Applications) has a nice new tabbed interface which lets you see apps by what's been downloaded, installed, what's running, and what lives on the SD card.


Better Camera Controls

The camera controls in Froyo are much easier to get to and they flip based on the phone's orientation. In 2.1 you had to slide out a panel to change camera settings. In Froyo small icons always line the side of the frame and give you one-tap access to zoom, focus, exposure, location, flash, and white balance settings. Zoom isn't available for the video camera, just the still camera.


Android Market "Update all" Button

Like a hangnail or a few grains of strategically-placed sand in your bathing suit, a little tiny thing can cause a whole lot of pain and chafing. The fact that you had to update apps from the Android Market one by one prior to Froyo was really annoying. Happily there is now an "Update all" button.


JavaScript-Heavy Webapps Work Well

I was thrilled to discover that Google Wave actually works on Froyo--well! In Android 2.1, after warning you to use a better browser, Wave would invariably crash your browser 60 seconds into usage. On Froyo, you no longer get the "use a better browser" message, and long, involved waves load without crashing. Hallelujah! Most likely this is a happy result of Froyo's much-improved JavaScript performance.


Update: Froyo also offers Microsoft Exchange support but I don't have an Exchange setup to test it with, sorry!

Update #2: Removed Twitter integration from my original list since the official Twitter app adds it, it's not a Froyo-specific update. Sorry!

The more I use Froyo the more new stuff I discover. What'd I miss? What's your favorite improvement? Let me know in the comments.

The more I read about 2.2, the more I want it! I suppose the newness of the EVO will have to hold me over until 2.2 shows up for it.

Clifton Tarpy
May 23 10 at 6:40 pm

I’m torn between the EVO and my Nexus One now. The EVO is the superior hardware, and the Sense UI is really nice. But 2.2 is pretty awesome, too. Thankfully my Google Voice number works on them both so I can switch at will.

Gina Trapani [+195]
May 23 10 at 6:42 pm

Wave does appear to be working for me, but I did get the browser warning when I went to http://wave.google.com. Still pretty rough around the edges, but super handy!

David Giesberg [+2]
May 23 10 at 6:45 pm

You know, everybody is getting so happy about 2.2 coming and I’m still stuck on Cupcake. I started to get real happy when I learned that we’re going to get 2.1 in late June. Yeah it’s repeated old news about fragmentation but seriously I just wish Google would do something.

Jacob Roeland [+9]
May 23 10 at 6:45 pm

@Jacob Roeland Why are you still on cupcake? It’s my favorite of the desserts, but not of the builds. Cyanogen’s Eclair build is stable and usable, so Root already :P It works pretty well on my G1 only thing is battery life, and that may just be the age of my battery. Anyway.

Kyle Lippard
May 23 10 at 6:55 pm

Oh also, what’s the story with the Music app and streaming music? I thought that was supposed to be Froyo (not Gingerbread) – or perhaps a release for the interim?

David Giesberg [+2]
May 23 10 at 6:59 pm

Question and tip.

Question: Are you able to do the portable hotspot and USB tethering stuff using just your normal data plan? I thought I read somewhere that Verizon was going to charge extra for Android 2.2 tethering. (I know you don’t use Verizon because you’re on the Nexus One, but I figured T-Mobile and Verizon might have similar policies here.)

Tip: The text-selection process can be a pain, but I’ve found that some apps (including Browser and Gmail) allow you to select text with a “keyboard shortcut” of sorts. The default is Menu Button + E.

(Related tip: You can assign “keyboard shortcuts” to applications in the settings menu. They use the Search button with a letter. Search + B defaults to opening the Browser.)

Eric Geller [+2]
May 23 10 at 7:00 pm

The Car Home screen has been updated too :)

Chuan Beng Tay
May 23 10 at 7:33 pm

I like the fact that when the phone is on the dock and you receive a call it automatically activates the speaker phone.

I don’t like the fact that you can not completely put the phone in silent mode. It used be that if you keep pressing the volume down button you would eventually put the phone in vibrate mode and then completely silent mode. Now you can choose whether to vibrate or not when it is in silent mode.

Also, Update All (Applications) only works because the OS feels –runs?– faster. My single favorite new feature so far.

Cemil Kor
May 23 10 at 7:36 pm

@Kyle Lippard I would but I’m scared to screw it up too bad. Plus Cyanogen doesn’t support the Hero.. But it’s all good. I can wait a little while longer.

Jacob Roeland [+9]
May 23 10 at 7:50 pm

@Jacob Roeland I have the Hero from sprint, we got the upgrade, its just not over the air. A sprint store is the fastest way but you can do it yourself with htc sync and the dl from sprint/htc. I did mine Thursday (it came out wed shortly after noon)

Adam Lombard
May 23 10 at 8:13 pm

@Adam Lombard I’m not on the Sprint network. I’m on Cellular South. Do you think it would be the same?

Jacob Roeland [+9]
May 23 10 at 8:31 pm

I have not seen anyone mentioned this: the most simplest and ‘about time!’ fix in Froyo is the Nexus One’s touch menu buttons! No more touching slightly above the icons, works perfectly now but have to re-learn this move :)

Isman Tanuri
May 23 10 at 9:50 pm

@Jacob Is cellular south a GSM network? If so, VillainROM (http://www.villainrom.co.uk) is an excellent choice for 2.1.

Also, the application manager section appears to suggest that apps can now be installed on the SD card – is this a new feature? I don’t think this is possible in 2.1, is it?

martin.brook
May 24 10 at 2:08 am

“Zoom isn’t available for the video camera”

On 2.1 on my Incredible I can zoom before I start recording. Just can’t change it once you press the record button. Is that different now? Seems dumb to have taken that away.

Matt Brodeur
May 24 10 at 3:30 am

I am on AT&T and I was able to do the manual update. Faced no problems with the OS and got all the new features. The portable Wi-Fi spot worked great too.
But, some of the apps refused to work. Could not log into Seesmic, the pure widget series did not work etc. I guess the app makers need time to update their apps.

Bolero [+1]
May 24 10 at 4:23 am

@Gina Trapani Use Nexus one with a custom ROM. I use the MoDaCo ROM with Sense UI on my N1. Works great.

Bolero [+1]
May 24 10 at 4:27 am

The GMail select bit isn’t new, it’s just now, uh, “supported”. If you had a keyboard in 2.0+ (DROID), you could hold down Shift while dragging your finger and it would select and copy, much like in the browser. But it’s a little buggy; hopefully they’re really supporting and fixing it for 2.2.

nocturnal9 [+1]
May 24 10 at 5:04 am

@Gina

I looked down at my Nexus One today and noticed that the track ball was flashing red. I have a non rooted N1. I updated to 2.2 this weekend and apparently they unlocked that feature. The reason it was glowing red was because sipdroid had failed to connect. I looked in the features and there was an option for a blue led flash for a missed call. I guess it will be up to third party apps to add different colors to the track ball.

I just thought I’d share.

Gerry Winkler
May 24 10 at 6:05 am

The Twitter integration came with the official Twitter app, not with Froyo. So I get to see my contact’s latest tweet on my DROID on 2.1 right now.

Luigi Montanez [+3]
May 24 10 at 6:41 am

Multiple calendars is the big feature for me. I have two accounts with calendars (a work one on Google Apps and a personal one on Gmail), and now I can finally see them both from the calendar app on my phone.

Wysz
May 24 10 at 9:40 am

I use gmail for my personal email and also have Exchange from work. Exchange setup was cake! (pun intended) Also supported security policy from my Exchange server requiring a pin to log into the phone. Worked Perfectly.

By the way, you can set up gmail as an Exchange Active Server. Using the server m.google.com and your username (without the @gmail.com) and pass…works. I know since I set up my iPad with gmail as Exchange so I don’t need iTunes to sync Contacts and Calendar. :)

steppek
May 24 10 at 10:04 am

Gina can u give us your review of the EVO I have one reserved and I would like to know what I am getting into.

Jesse Newcomb [+2]
May 24 10 at 12:43 pm

I’m really impressed with the browser speedups. I ran the Spider test on Froyo and Eclair (on the EVO 4G):

Froyo: http://bit.ly/aUoa05
Eclair: http://bit.ly/bWPs1e

Basically, there’s an average of over 2x speed improvement. Some tests were almost 10x faster!

It’s not just benchmarks, either. The browser experience is an order of magnitude better.

Mark [+8]
May 24 10 at 1:34 pm

The Hulu issue is on Hulu’s side. They recognise the device as a mobile device and assume it can’t play the video content. There’s a debug hack to get around it.

I can’t wait for the HTC Sense devices to get 2.2, I just hope it isn’t too long!

Daniel Bentley
May 24 10 at 2:18 pm

@ martin.brook No we’re CDMA. So yeah I guess I’m just royally screwed til June. What’s funny though is last night, I cannot lie, I dreamed I had a Nexus One running Froyo. Oh that was a sweet dream.

Jacob Roeland [+9]
May 25 10 at 9:48 am

Just caught this thread, but my favorite feature is on the keyboard, if you slide your finger up off the top of the keyboard, you get a couple more rows of keys, one for common punctuation (but not parens, for some reason) and another for numbers. Way quicker than holding the “.” key.

seguetonowhere
Jun 18 10 at 3:44 pm

For those of us who constantly need to input text in more than one language, Froyo also facilitates switching the keyboard layout and/or associated language (for spell checking) directly from the keyboard. This feature was available in the iPhone from day one, but something that in Android has required a 3rd-party app before the arrival of Froyo.

Allan T├ępper [+1]
Jun 29 10 at 8:47 am

I recently received the Froyo OTA update on my N1. Very smooth and painless.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the N1 no longer switches out of standby when I remove the power cable, which I see as a definite improvement.

One other point: I use the Swype official beta (1.56.30) and it stopped working after the Froyo update. I uninstalled Swype and then re-ran the installer to bring it back. OK now.

ThomasGC [+5]
Jul 4 10 at 5:31 am

…and the Display now has the option to Auto-adjust its brightness. This is nice; before Froyo I always found it necessary to remember to manually change to a brighter setting before venturing outdoors.

ThomasGC [+5]
Jul 5 10 at 8:30 am

What I like:

Gmail app…can now make the default text size bigger.

Lock screen…can use a PIN or password instead of pattern.

ONE CALENDAR!

Contacts…sort by last name.

Bluetooth voice dialing.

Screen will rotate to landscape in BOTH directions.

Long press on home shows you last 8 apps instead of 6.

Long press on launcher shows thumbnails of all your screens.

Jeff [+2]
Jul 6 10 at 9:09 pm


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