EXPLAINED: What ‘Android’ and ‘Froyo’ Are And What They Mean For You
In the past couple of weeks, most of the hype has been about ‘Froyo’, and the features that it may/may not include. This article aims to help everyone understand what it actually means, discusses potential features, and what it actually means for you as a HTC Desire owner. Let’s start with basics:
Android is the operating system that is installed on your mobile phone. If you consider your phone to be the hardware – the touchscreen, buttons, camera, mic, trackpad all the little components on the inside, then the operating system (OS) is the software that makes the hardware come to life. From the moment you turn your phone on, Android is running. It provides you with everything you see on the screen, whether its your homescreens, making a call, sending a text message or taking a picture, all of it is done using Android. This operating system is developed by Google and provided free of charge.
As a Desire owner, it’s safe to say you’ll have come across the term HTC Sense. HTC Sense is a version of Android which has been customised by the company that made your phone, HTC. As Android is free and open-source, it’s open to any developer to download the code and edit it for themselves. HTC have gone and done just that, creating a fantastic variation of Android. HTC Sense includes the homescreen that you get, the widgets, the Mail, Browser, Messaging applications, even the on-screen keyboard you get and other similar features. In simple terms, HTC Sense is Android, but modified by HTC.
NOTE: If you’re using a phone by another manufacturer, then it may also have a variation of Android, for example Motorola phones call their variation MotoBlur. Phone that use the Android OS as supplied by Google without any/minor customisation are referred to as running Vanilla Android, with Vanilla being the geek-term for plain.
Donuts, Eclairs and Froyos!
All these desserts are Google’s names for the Android OS as it matures over time. Android is under constant development by Google. Each new version of Android is assigned a codename based on a famous sweet snacks which go in alphabetical order. Donut is Android 1.6, Eclair is 2.1 (the version you have on your Desire) and Froyo is 2.2, which is due to be released around 19 May.
Android Versions on HTC Desire (and other HTC Phones)
As mentioned earlier, HTC phones come with a modified version of Android called HTC Sense. With each new version of Android, HTC get the code from Google and then apply their changes to make it into HTC Sense. This process can take from days, all the way up to months. This means that you can’t expect the HTC Sense version of Android to be released on the same day as the Vanilla release. You have to wait for HTC to finish altering and testing it. HTC Hero phone owners are still waiting for their HTC Sense version of Eclair from HTC – Google released Eclair in January!
Froyo is the next version of Android which is rumoured to bring some exciting new changes to Android phones. The most interesting of which are described below:
- Flash Player 10.1 – Up til now Android phones have used Flash Lite, which is only a very limited way of viewing Flash content. Flash Player 10.1 will allow you to view Flash content on your phone, in almost exactly the same way as you would on your PC. For example, you should be able to watch iPlayer directly from the BBC website, play Flash games on certain websites and view websites that have been created using Adobe Flash. This feature is guaranteed to be included in Froyo.
- Applications on SD Card – If you rooted your handset you’ll know how useful it is to use your MicroSD card for installing applications on. It means you’re no longer restricted to the limited capacity of your phone. Google have now decided that they will allow this functionality in future versions of Android. This is great news considering how many games and applications use quite a large amount of storage space. This feature is most-likely going to be included in Froyo, but not guaranteed.
- Tethering - this allows you to connect your phone to your computer, and share the mobile internet coming into your phone with your computer. For example, if you’re travelling on a train with a laptop where there’s no WiFi, you could plug your Desire into the laptop using your USB cable and enable tethering. The laptop would then be connected to the Internet via the mobile internet connection of your phone. Bear in mind that most mobile networks state that your data allowance can’t be used for tethering.
What Does It Mean for My HTC Desire?
Well, Froyo will be announced on the 19 May at a Google Conference. It will be released on the same day, or within a few days in it’s Vanilla form. The Vanilla version will work on phones whose manufacturers didn’t bother with customising Android, for example the Google Nexus One. For the HTC Desire, we’ll be waiting for HTC to create the Sense version of it – and it’s whenever they’re ready that we’ll see the update on our Desires.
- Android is an operating system
- HTC Sense is Android that has been modified by HTC
- Froyo is a codename for version 2.2 of Android, Eclair is the codename for version 2.1
- Froyo will be released around the 19 May 2010
- Froyo for the Desire will be released when HTC modify Froyo with their changes to make it into HTC Sense
Well, I hope you now have a better understanding of what it is that makes your Desire tick. If you have any questions, or spot any mistakes do let me know.
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- REVIEW: A Day (and Night) with Froyo on HTC Desire