Mobile Roundup: Google I/O Edition

It’s been quite the week for Google and their mobile operating system. The develope conference is finally over, and there’s been a lot going on in the world of Android. While we weren’t surprised with the announcements, we were still thoroughly impressed. While it may be Google’s week, there are still some good mobile stories sans the search giant.  Check out this week’s highlights after the break.

Android 2.2

Google announced a great software update with Android 2.2, or Froyo. Most of the changes are done in the backend, but will provide a huge performance boost, Flash 10.1 support, native tethering, automatic application updating, and more.

The introduction to the JIT (just-in-time) compiler which adds a 2-5x performance boost to the OS. While Android 2.1 is quite snappy on its own, faster is better and we like what we’ve seen so far. Other notable changes are the ability to update all of your applications at a time, which was sorely needed. But the real stand out-feature when it comes to the market is the option to have your applications automatically update themselves. All you have to do is check a box in the market for a particular application, and it will update automatically in the background.

Now with Froyo, as long as it’s okay with carriers, users can now use their Android device to tether, and as a mobile hotspot. This is available in some Android devices running 2.1 via apps, but Froyo offers this feature natively.

The biggest feature that’s been added into Froyo has got to be the introduction of Flash 10.1 into the Browser. Whatever you think about Flash, it’s good enough for now until HTML5 gets up to par, and its miles away right now. From what we’ve seen, Flash is quite impressive on the Nexus One, and opens up a lot of content that users previously could not access. Other mentionable features include many Exchange support features added in, as well as some camera improvements.

We also got a sneak peek for what’s to come in future Android updates. A new API is available to developers, called Cloud to Device and it will allow one to push things like Google Maps directions, or a web page to the device in the proper format. If you’re in the middle of reading an article at home, just push the link to your device, it will pop up in your phone’s browser, and you’re good to go. In the future, this feature will become even more powerful by having the option to push applications found from the Android Market site to the device.

Something that delivers a couple of blows in the future is the ability for users to access their computer’s entire music library by streaming it to their device. If you’ve got a data connection, and your computer at home is on, you’ve got your entire music library at your fingertips. Unfortunately, this was only previewed and it won’t be a part of Android 2.2. We weren’t told when this feature would be available, but we could see it in a yet-to-be-baked Gingerbread.

Oh yeah, if you didn’t hear, every attendee of the conference received a free EVO 4G!

Android 2.2 is said to be available for the Nexus One in the coming weeks, as well as OEMs. Check out some of the features in Android 2.2 below!

Google TV

To no surprise, Google introduced its new TV service, conveniently named Google TV. With a handful of partners behind the project, Google is positioned to succeed in an area where others have failed.

It’s all about search and that’s something Google knows a thing or two about. Google TV adds a search bar to the TV set, which allows you to search for TV shows, or for content on the web. A search for a particular TV should will yield results from TV shows currently playing at the time, and future showings. If the show is available online, whether it be paid or free, this will also be included in the search. You can bookmark web content, making it easily accessible from the TV’s ‘home’ page where you can find all of your favorite show. You can also link up to your Netflix account, and have your instant queue right in front of you.

The service has three core functions that enable it: Android, the Chrome Browser, and Flash. Being Android based, the TV service will eventually allow users to download applications from the Android Market, as well have them sent from the Android Market website, using the new Cloud to Device feature. The Chrome browser will be built into Google TV and you’ll be doing all your searches from there. It will remain just as functional when it comes to privacy concerns, allowing a user to erase history and the like. Flash will be enabled to allow owners of Google TV to be able to view television shows if they are found on websites, since most are Flash-based. A big concern to some is whether or not Hulu will work on the set, but I believe it will. Eventually, if not out of the gate.

What about hardware? You’ve got options. You need a HDTV, a HDMI port (and cord), and a broadband connection. You can either buy a television with Google TV built right into it, or a “companion box.” The companion box, which will be built by Logitech, will allow one to get Google TV access if they already have a HDTV. The companion box is said to be a part of an ecosystem of companion products that could include webcams, and other products will be introduced later on. Logitech will also make devices to help you navigate – keyboards and mice – while Harmony is promising some cool new remotes. There will also be applications for Android and iPhone to be able to control the TV service. All you do is pair your phone to Google TV over WiFi, and you now have a remote.

Google has seamlessly added the functions of the web with TV, and all signs point to awesome. Google TV is on track for a Fall release of this year. Still want to know more about GTV? Check out the video below.

Blackberry Pearl 3G 9100

Okay, enough of Google for now. Research In Motion has introduced its first Blackberry that supports 802.11N WiFi, the Blackberry Pearl 3G 9100. Some nice improvements have been made with the 9100 that will make you Blackberry lovers happy.

Other than supporting WiFi N, the 9100 comes with a revamped hardware design. A much-needed refresh from an old, yet very popular form factor. Another nice thing about the 9100 is that is packs in everything the 9700 ever had in about 2/3 the size. This is probably one of the sleekest Blackberry devices to date, coupling clean lines with some sexy curves. Our very own Simon had a chance to get some hands on to this baby, so check out the video below to find out more!

AT&T ups ETFs

First Verizon, now AT&T has upped its Early Termination Fee to $325 for all smartphones, starting in June. It’s an interesting time for this time happen, when they just cut off a couple of months for their users to upgrade to the new iPhone. Is AT&T getting tougher, and nicer at the same time? Or are they trying to keep as many customers as possible? These two things make me think they know something we don’t, like maybe a Verizon iPhone will indeed be announced at the WWDC next month. It would be smart for Apple to do this this year, as Android is definitely gaining on them, and what could be more alluring to someone who’s been waiting for a Verizon iPhone for some years now?

Its been quite the week for mobile, and it’s only going to get more interesting over the next couple of weeks. The mobile space is heating up like never before and IntoMobile is here to make sure you don’t miss anything. You can keep up to date with news by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and if you’d like to follow me, you can find me on Twitter(@blakestimac). ‘Till next week, mobile geeks.

  • gdave

    Verizon will not be getting an iPhone. At least not for a few years. First of all, Apple just signed a new, exclusive 3 year contract with AT&T. Second of all, Verizon refuses to give up their need to put Vcast on every single phone included an iPhone if they got one…Apple isn't ok with that…They only want you using the Apple App store. Third of all, as of now, Verizon's CDMA network is not strong enough to support the iPhone and it won't be until they upgrade their network to LTE which will be a several year project…technology wise, putting the iPhone on CDMA would be a step backwards for the iPhone since GSM is a little bit more advanced. Why would Apple take a step backwards? They wouldn't. The thing that does suck is that Steve Jobs is going to stick with Quicktime till the grave…He has stated that they will NEVER put Flash on the iPhone…which is stupid.

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