Android release roadmap
Within the space of a year in 2010, Google released three Android updates which form the backbone of the vast majority of present day Android smartphones:
Android 2.1 (Éclair) – January 2010
Android 2.2 (Froyo) – May 2010
Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) – December 2010
In terms of overall market share, Android 2.2 (Froyo) retains a commanding position (59.4%) as the most popular Android smartphone OS in the world, however the latest version of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) is enjoying tremendous growth (17.6%) as users upgrade in significant numbers to benefit from the latest and greatest features.
As the needs of the users evolved so did Android, with key developments providing gradual improvements across the entire range of features from simple interface updates to browser performance to memory management.
So what were the main differences between Android 2.1, 2.2 and the latest 2.3? And what were the key benefits that users could enjoy? Continue reading this article to find out!
Pick a flavor
Android 2.1 (Éclair)
Éclair provided users with a new and improved experience compared to Android 1.6 (Donut). With its debut on the Nexus One handset, the major change from Android 1.6 was the improvement to the virtual keyboard with multi-touch support. Other improvements included improved speed, better screen size resolution and contrast ratio, HTML 5 support, Google maps 3.1.2, MS Exchange Server integration, Flash for camera and Bluetooth v2.1 functionality.
Additionally, Live wallpapers were also introduced for the first time to provide even more eye candy, while the front end was significanly upgraded: five home screens were provided instead of three, home screen navigation was updated for easier access, a new Android app launcher gave a smoother user experience, new default widgets were available for the home screen and a 3D photo gallery developed with Cooliris showed all your photos in a slick scrollable 3D view.
Android 2.2 (Froyo)
Whereas Eclair could be argued as having basic, albeit important, features needed in a smartphone, Froyo improved on it with even more functions, new user features, developer features, API changes and bug fixes. Froyo brought a polished, more responsive experience with some serious under-the-hood improvements for users to enjoy, largely thanks to the optimized code compiler that provides a 2x-5x performance boost for CPU-heavy code.
The other major differences offered by Froyo include the support for high DPI screens (320 dpi), such as 4″ 720P, USB tethering, WiFi hotspot, Adobe Flash 10.1 support, integration of Chrome v8 JS Engine, general speed enhancements and performance optimization.
Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) introduces many new functions and applications for users to experience a richer, fuller multimedia environment. New platform technologies and APIs for developers were provided to make use of the high resolution large screens, improved processor speed and memory to create a great gaming experience.
Other new features offered by Android 2.3 included a refined UI interface, improved keyboard, improved copy and paste, support for WebM video playback, internet calling and NFC (Near Field Communication). These features come in addition to the popular Android features like multi-tasking and Wi-Fi hotspots, Adobe Flash 10.1, and support for extra high DPI screens.
Android 2.3 also has firmly integrated some application in to the platform like Google Mobile apps and a redesigned YouTube. In a world of connectivity, internet calling is one particularly attractive feature for users. Android 2.3 provides dedicated support for SIP audio and video calling in addition to standard voice calling. Another important aspect in the mobile operating system is the power management. Gingerbread handles it in a better way, managing the applications and daemon application which are running at the background and closing the unnecessary applications that consume more power.