Google's Silliest-Named Android Version Yet, Froyo, Brings iPhone-Baiting Features

Google FroyoGoogle's newest version of Android, 2.2 (otherwise known as Froyo—yeah, I know), was maybe not as well-leaked as we thought. Sure, we knew about tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality, and Flash 10.1 support, but there's a lot more to Froyo than we realized.

First, what you see: a very slight redesign of the homescreen. The app drawer has the phone and browser icons pegged on either side, which is useful if you're the type of regressive oddball who actually makes phone calls with your phone. That's about it for UI changes, although there are some nice software additions.

There's Wi-Fi hotspot and tethering functionality, which we knew about (though it'll depend on carriers to decide cost for those features), but lots we didn't: automatic restore and backup of apps and files, a customizable search (you can search everything, or choose "Web," "Apps," or "Contacts" exclusively), an "update all" and "auto-update" feature in the Android Market, a solid-looking app and task manager (the cost of multitasking), better camera, and improved Outlook support.

And now the biggies: Flash 10.1 support, which has been confirmed all along by Adobe, in their desperation to assure buyers that Flash really does work on mobile. But the craziest of all has to be Google's new attack on cloud-based music. Google showed off (with very little elaboration) the new "Music" section of the Android Market, which lets you buy music over a 3G or Wi-Fi connection just like you'd buy an app. No word on how exactly this will work—is it a new store? Which labels are on board? What's the price?—but it's definitely coming.

Even crazier, Google recently purchased a company called Simplify Media. Simplify makes a desktop application that streams media from iTunes to a mobile phone, and Google confirmed that this same functionality will be coming to Android. It's not clear if iTunes will be involved, but if they are...whoo boy. That's a five-fingered slap right in Apple's face—it's an amazing new feature, using Apple's software, that Apple's own smartphone can't handle. Imagine it—who cares how much storage your phone has? Your entire music collection is at your fingertips at all times!

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one—you'll have to do the legwork yourself).

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