Google June 23 launched Android 2.2 to open source, allowing programmers to offer applications that take advantage of enterprise capabilities and APIs that leverage Google's cloud computing assets.
The company first introduced Android 2.2, or Froyo as it is also known, at Google I/O in May. Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering for Google's mobile products, showed off significant speed improvements to CPU-bound code and Android Web browser.
But it's the enterprise and cloud capabilities that may win the day for most Android developers, who are already seeing the Froyo pushed to the Nexus One.
Andy Rubin, the vice president of engineering for Google, announced the open-sourcing of Android 2.2 at the launch of the Motorola Droid X smartphone in New York City yesterday.
The Droid X will launch to consumers July 15, Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha pointed out that the device will get an over-the-air upgrade to Android 2.2 later this summer.
When that happens, the Motorola Droid X will be able to enjoy Microsoft Exchange capabilities such as account auto-discovery and calendar sync.
Moreover, Android 2.2 boasts device policy management APIs so that developers can write programs that can control security features of the device such as remote wipe, minimum password, lockscreen timeout and other tools.
That will make the Droid X and other Android devices to come, enterprise-capable devices to rival Apple's iPhone, whose fourth version launched June 24 to critical praise.
One thing the iPhone 4 won't have are certain APIs that enable developers to use the cloud. Rubin noted:
"We're developing new ways to harness that computing power, giving APIs to third-party developers that don't exist on the device but exist in the cloud, so those APIs can be connected to from a third-party service and then pushed to devices."
Specifically, the Android Cloud to Device Messaging API, which provides a mechanism servers can use to tell mobile applications to contact the server directly, to fetch updated application or user data.
This API will let programmers use Google's massively parallel servers to write apps that offer mobile alert, send to phone, and two-way push sync functionality.
Developers may test this API, the enterprise capabilities and other tools by downloading the Android 2.2 SDK from here.
Meanwhile, while the iPhone 4 seems poised to shatter records for smartphone sales, momentum for Android is revving.
Google at I/O a month ago said Android was launching on some 100,000 devices per day. Rubin revised that number to 160,000 at the Droid X launch event. That's two devices new Android devices every second.
There are also 60 Android devices, coming from 21 OEMs and 59 carriers in 49 countries.
"The volume and variety of Android devices continues to exceed even our most optimistic expectations," Rubin said, noting that Android devices are selling faster than they can be manufactured in some cases.
That sounds an awful lot like the challenge Apple has faced in getting its iPhone into customers' hands.