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Top 10 Android 2.2 Features Developers Can't Wait to Use, Page 2

  • May 24, 2010
  • By Lauren Darcey, Shane Conder
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6. Across-the-board SDK Enhancements

Numerous Android APIs were added as part of the 2.2 release. Graphics and game developers will welcome the support for OpenGL ES 2.0 and ETC1 texture-compression support. Services like speech recognition (android.speech) received substantial upgrades and peripheral APIs such as those that support the Camera and Camcorder have been greatly improved. A new UI Mode Manager (android.app.UIModeManager) service adjusts the device configuration for night mode, car mode, and desk mode (docking state).

As of Android 2.2, applications are not limited to installation paths on the main device, but can also be installed on external storage such as an SD card. There is also a new generic data backup service Android applications can use to allow users to transition seamlessly between Android devices.

In terms of sensible but frustrating API changes, the layout attribute fill_parent has been renamed to match_parent (no, it won't break your old apps -- yet). Even debugging got an enhancement with a blob-based "logcat" style queue of data in the form of DropBoxManager. The list goes on.

7. Android Market Updates

There are quite a few updates to the Android Market coming with the Froyo release. One of the most useful new features for publishers is built-in error reporting. If your application crashes on a user's phone, the user will have the option to send the error report back to the specific publisher through the Android Market. This enables a full-circle user-developer feedback loop, allowing publishers to address problems (and receive valuable crash diagnostic information, such as the device configuration and stack trace) and avoid ratings disasters.

And let's not forget that Android developers are also Android users. In addition to the expected performance improvements and "Chrome" added for the Froyo platform release, there are a number of compelling consumer features delivered in Froyo, such as:

8. Tethering and the Portable Hotspot

Froyo delivers USB tethering and the ability to turn your Android device into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot. This is a an awesome feature, but we wonder how many operators/carriers are going to hide and/or disable it, as some have done with similar features on competing platforms. If we had to guess, we'd say that this is one of those compelling features that might improve Android adoption (although at 100,000 device activations a day, Android isn't doing too badly) but also is most likely to frustrate these same people when they cannot get that feature on a shipping phone. We'll see.

9. Microsoft Exchange Support

Nobody likes juggling phones based on whether they're using it for work or personal reasons, and there's a pretty substantial class of users out there who are greatly limited in their choice of mobile devices based upon their corporate IT requirements -- notably, support for Microsoft Exchange. (Frankly, it seems crazy to us to call anything a "smartphone" if it doesn't support Microsoft Exchange, but that's just us.)

Android 2.2 includes lots of new Microsoft Exchange features, such as:

  • Improved security features allowing administrators to enforce password policies
  • For Exchange administrators, remote wiping of a device if it is lost or stolen
  • Exchange calendar support now compatible with the Android Calendar app
  • Auto-discovery for easy account setup and syncing
  • Android Email support for auto-completion of recipient names and addresses using Microsoft Exchange Global Address Lists

10. "The World's Fastest Mobile Browser"

In the Google I/O keynote, Google VP of Engineering Vic Gundotra made the claim that the Android 2.2 release includes the world's fastest mobile browser. He illustrated this claim by basically "lapping" the iPad browser (even after giving it a head start) in a little race based upon SunSpider JavaScript benchmarks (try it out on the test site). Whether or not the demonstration was a fair apples-to-apples comparison, the point got across: the performance improvements made to the Froyo browser made it wicked fast. Android browser performance makes everyone happy (okay, maybe not competitors …) and will surely be appreciated as HTML5 grows up.

That's it! Those are the ten Android 2.2 features we can't wait to get our hands on. What are yours? The new SDK can be downloaded via the update mechanism and more information can be found at the Android 2.2 Platform page.

About the Authors

Lauren Darcey and Shane Conder have coauthored two books on Android development: an in-depth programming book entitled "Android Wireless Application Development" (ISBN-13: 978-0-321-62709-4) and "Sams Teach Yourself Android Application Development in 24 Hours" (ISBN-13: 978-0-321-67335-0). When not writing, they spend their time developing mobile software at their company and providing consulting services. They can be reached at androidwirelessdev+dc@gmail.com and via their blog at http://androidbook.blogspot.com.


Tags: Android, Android Marketplace, Android 2.2, android apps

Originally published on http://www.developer.com.

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