There have been many rumors floating around about the new version of the Android Operating System (OS) called Froyo or Android 2.2. It’s been heavily tuned, tweaked and generally optimized to make it faster, smaller and overall better (sounds like the Six Million Dollar Man). Does this mean that a heavily optimized, smaller, and faster Android can be used on older devices? We’d like to hope so, but probably not.
Quick rant: We already know that technically it can be done as Cyanogen has proven that even 2.1 can be modified to run on older devices. this does lead me to wonder at least, if Cyanogen & co can do it, why can’t Google?
There are Android devices available from almost all the major players and each one appears to be running a different version of the Android OS. Additionally, some companies are taking advantage of the ability to customize the UI as to almost make it unrecognizable from the standard interface. Many of these devices have been confirmed or rumored to be getting their OS upgraded, and a few that have been confirmed will not be getting the upgrade. So how does this affect us?
With the many different versions comes the issue of compatibility and this is where the Android devices become fragmented. This is one advantage Apple has with the iPhone over the Android manufacturers, It’s known hardware that they have much more control over. The ability to control hardware is good, though as demonstrated by the popularity of mods out in the community, variety is still highly appealing. Let’s hope that Google and the device manufacturers are working to make this new smaller, sleeker and faster Android OS easier to roll back onto older devices, as another version with specific features for developers to make use of will only taint the already heavily fragmented Android market even more.
Every OS has issues and some of these issues are caused by the invention of faster hardware. As faster and faster hardware is released, it becomes less of a concern to optimize the software so the OS’s become bloated and less efficient. Look what happened with Microsoft Windows! We’ve already seen faster processors appearing with each new iteration of the hardware, let’s just hope that this doesn’t make the developers lazy.
From the news at Google I/O 2010, it sounds like this has NOT happened with the Android OS. AndroidPolice have reported on some of the existing rumors floating around about Froyo and it sounds like optimization has been the key driver. Let’s hope this is true.
Two major improvements in Froyo are reported as:
JIT (Just In Time Compilation)
JIT has been previously reported to provide a significant speed increase over non-JIT Android. It was reported to give a 450% speed increase over Android 2.1 on the Nexus One.
Duplicate XML file writing
Duplicate XML file writing has been found to be a cause of slow boot up in Android and has been heavily reduced in Froyo.
There are many other reported enhancements in Froyo that will make our devices even faster and provide more and more functionality, I just hope this won’t make another slice of pie to deal with and fragment the market even further.