Google rolls out IT-friendly Android OS upgrade

Android 2.2 boasts Flash capabilities, a speed boost, and enterprise enhancements like Microsoft Exchange integration

Google detailed on Thursday its Android 2.2 OS, featuring enterprise-level enhancements as well as a speed boost and Flash support.

Codenamed "Froyo," for frozen yogurt, Android 2.2 includes more than 20 new features geared to enterprises, said Google's Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering. Among these is integration with the Microsoft Exchange messaging system, with such capabilities as account auto-discovery and linkage with the Exchange global address book. Calendar synchronization is offered as well.

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 "Number 1, we've become Microsoft Exchange-friendly," Gundotra said in introducing Android 2.2 at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco.

Also in the enterprise space, APIs are featured for device policy management, enabling developers to write applications that control security features like remote wipe, minimum password, and lockscreen timeout, according to Google.

"As Android adoption [has] skyrocketed, people have been taking these devices to work," Gundotra said.

Froyo offers an application data backup API and a cloud-to-device messaging API. Devices running Android 2.2 also can serve as a portable hotspot for network access.

The OS upgrade features a two-to-five-times speed improvement for applications via use of a just-in-time compiler functioning with the Dalvik virtual machine.  

Android 2.2 will be made available to equipment manufacturers and the open source community in coming weeks; developers can download the Android SDK and NDK (native development kit) from the Android developer site.

Android 2.2 supports the Flash 10.1 browser and Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtme). "It turns out that people actually use Flash," Gundotra said, in an obvious swipe at Apple's refusal to allow Flash on devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Adobe, meanwhile, has just released the public beta version of Flash Player 10.1 for Android, an Adobe representative said.

Browser capabilities in Android 2.2 are being enhanced with inclusion of the V8 JavaScript engine now featured in the Google Chrome browser.

"It's critically important for us to make the Android browser rock, and we're going to constantly improve that browser. Froyo is a major step in that direction," Gundotra said.

"We can claim Froyo has the world's fastest mobile browser," he said.

Users also will be able to access Android camera capabilities via the browser. Voice input is again featured as well, for informational queries.

"We're going to make it very simple to use voice input," as a way to interact with an Android device, said Gundotra.

Gundotra said there are now 100,000 Android activations daily.

Novell, for its part, is announcing MonoDroid, a software development kit for building Android applications using code and libraries written for the Microsoft .Net development framework and languages like C#. MonoDroid functions with the Android SDK.

In the consumer vein, Google Thursday morning also announced Google TV, an effort to integrate Web browsing  capabilities into TV sets.

This article, "Google rolls out Android OS upgrade," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter and on your mobile device at infoworldmobile.com.

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