Mobile

With Android update, Google comes out swinging against Apple

Google Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra announced the latest update to its Android smartphone operating system. The overriding theme wasn’t a single feature or tool. Instead, my summary of Gundotra’s remarks would boil down to, “Take that, Apple.”

When outlining almost every one of the new features in version 2.2, codenamed “FroYo,” Gundotra took time to make a comparison to Apple’s iPhone and iPad. here are a few examples:

  • Froyo includes WiFi tethering, meaning that you can use your cellular connection to connect other devices to the Internet over WiFi. For example, Gundotra showed that “a device that doesn’t have connectivity,” namely an iPad, was able to pick up a WiFi signal from an Android phone.
  • Froyo will offer cloud-to-phone messaging. Gundotra noted this might sound like the push notification offered in iPhones, which was partly a stopgap measure because the iPhone operating system won’t let users run multiple applications at once. (This will change in the upcoming iPhone OS update.)
    Froyo’s new feature isn’t “designed to make up for a lack of functionality,” Gundotra said — instead, it allows users to send activities from their computer Web browser to their phone, so you for example can read an article on your computer, then send it to your phone, where it immediately opens. “That’s how you do a cloud-to-device API,” he said.
  • FroYo will include what Gundotra said is the fastest mobile web browser ever. Gundotra showed a browser speed test on a Froyo phone, a phone running the older “Eclair” version of Android, and an iPad. Predictably, the iPad was the slowest. “I wonder if that’s going to be available in the Apple App Store,” Gundotra said.
  • Froyo will support sites using Adobe’s Flash technology, which is blocked on the iPhone and iPad. “It turns out that on the Internet, people use Flash,” Gundotra said, prompting laughter and applause from the crowd.

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