The majority of Android phones are still running an outdated firmware, but that hasn’t slowed Google from advancing their mobile operating system. Everyone knows the next version of Android (codenamed Froyo) is on the way and the rumors (1, 2) are beginning to pick up that the Nexus One will receive it soon.
Based on the data from our analytics reports it appears Google has already begun testing on their next firmware – Android 2.2. Google engineers have routinely given codenames to future builds of Android (Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, etc.), but they don’t receive a point release till they are finalized and nearing distribution.
We have shared this reporting data before and people are always quick to point out that it can be easily faked, but I have spoke with additional sources familiar with the matter who confirmed Android 2.2 is currently being tested.
The feature set for Android 2.2 was frozen long ago, but it remains mostly unknown. Google decided last year that they would no longer publish public roadmaps for future versions of Android. Based on the information we can gather, it appears Android 2.2 will mainly focus on performance enhancements.
Some of the rumored features for Android 2.2 include:
- JIT compiler
- Free additional RAM
- OpenGL ES 2.0 enhancements
- Flash 10.1 support
- Fixed problem with “crazy screen” / Resolution of cross multitouch
- Activation of Color Trackball
- Enable FM radio
Some of these features are plausible and others we have no clue.
The JIT compiler has already been confirmed by Google and we expect to find out new details during Google I/O. Android engineers will be leading a discussion that informs devs how to test and tune their apps to work with the new compiler.
Additional free RAM should come thanks to the new Linux kernel being used in Froyo. Google is moving from 2.6.29 to the newer 2.6.32 which makes it possible to address the extra RAM. This has already been done in custom ROMs like CyanogenMod so expect this feature for sure.
I’m no expert on OpenGL, but it has long been rumored that Froyo (or a future build) will add new APIs to the Android NDK which will let Java devs have full access to the OpenGL ES 2.0 library.
Flash 10.1 is coming in the first half of the year. It is entirely possible it could be tied to a future Android firmware and be included with an OTA update.
We have already addressed the HTC touch sensor issues. It sounds like a future software update could be used to clean this up a little.
Multicolor trackball notifications are definitely coming. Android hackers like ChainsDD have already unlocked this feature for users of custom ROMs. Google advertised the multicolor trackball during its launch of the Nexus One, but the feature was cut from the final Android 2.1 build.
When it comes to the FM radio, I have no idea. Other HTC phones on a similar Snapdragon platform (Desire and Incredible) include the FM radio so it’s not out of the question that the N1 has it too.
I spoke with Google’s Erick Tseng during CES and he told me there were many secrets left in the Nexus One that we would discover later.
When is it Android 2.2 coming out?
Circle May 19th on your calendar. This is the opening day of Google I/O and I’m anticipating the release of Android 2.2 (and maybe the Flash 10.1 beta) will be tied to this event. Google has provided every developer attending the event a free Droid or Nexus One, so it is possible to see a simultaneous release on both devices.
I’m really curious how first generation devices are going to play with this release. We are expecting most phones to receive Android 2.1 this month, so it will be interesting to see how Froyo fits in. Some of the Android engineers have been talking about Froyo on the Google boards and it is unclear if the HTC Dream and Magic will be able to support it since they only have 192 MB of RAM.
What features do you want in the next version of Android?
What is the biggest issue that you think Google needs to address in the next release of Android? Are you satisfied with the rumored list of changes? Is there some glaring feature that you think Google is overlooking? Share your hopes and predictions in the comments and let us know what you think.