Google just announced Froyo, the next version of its Android mobile operating system. According to Google, this new version will be significantly faster and more enterprise-friendly. Froyo will also offer a backup API, a "cloud-to-device" messaging API and support for tethering and portable hotspots. In addition, Android 2.2 will feature a significantly faster browser and better ways to find Android apps.

Cloud-to-Device Messaging

One of the most exciting new features in Android 2.2 is the addition of a cloud-to-device messaging service that, at first glance, looks a bit like Apple's push notifications service. Taking a swipe at Apple, however, Google's vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra noted that this API is not meant to "make up for the lack of basic features like multitasking." Instead, this new API will allow users to send "Android intent" messages from other services like Google Maps. In the example Google showed during today's keynote, Gundotra sent directions from Google Maps on the Web directly to the phone.

Speed

Gundotra also stressed that this new version of Android is significantly faster than current versions. Thanks to a new compiler, various benchmarks show that apps on Android 2.2 are up to five times faster than the same code running on Android 2.1.

Enterprise

Google is clearly going after enterprise users with Android 2.2 as well. The new version of the operating system will feature Exchange capabilities like account atuo-discover and calendar sync. Thanks to a new device policy management API, developers will now also be able to write apps that can perform remote wipes.

Tethering and Mobile Hotspots

Android devices will now be able to function as portable hotspots. Creating a hotspot will be as easy as turning on this feature in the Android settings. This functionality, of course, will have to be enabled by the carriers.

Browser

The browser in Android 2.2 got a major performance boost thanks to the addition of the Chrome V8 JavaScript engine to Android. In today's demo, which featured quite a few direct swipes at Apple, the Android browser clearly outperformed Safari on the iPad. According to Google, the addition of the V8 engine has resulted in an improvement by a factor of three in JavaScript performance.

This version of Android will give developers greater access to the phone's sensors and allow apps to interact with input from a phone's accelerometer and camera.

Voice Input

Google also highlighted Android's voice recognition features. As Gundotra noted, using voice recognition currently works great for long queries. In the next version of Android after 2.2, the software will also be able to understand intentions. While Google only introduced this feature very briefly, it was clearly meant to remind the audience of Siri, a company Apple recently acquired in order to offer a similar feature in the iPhone OS.

External Memory and Auo-Updating for Apps

Android 2.2 will automatically move applications that don't fit into the device's internal memory to an SD card. In addition, you can now update all your apps with one click and even tell Android to update all your apps automatically whenever the developer releases a new version.

Market in the Browser

Google will bring the Android Market to the browser to give users a more iTunes-like experience. Thanks to the new cloud-to-device messaging feature, whenever you buy an app in the new Android Market on the Web that app will now automatically begin downloading on your Android device.

Music

Users will also be able to stream their music from their desktops to their Android devices. To enable these features, Google has quietly acquired Simplify Media.