Froyo, or if you prefer the Google Android 2.2 term, seems to be the flavor to look out for in the months to come. Numerous devices powered by the updated Android 2.2. platform have been announced. This includes the LG Optimus One, which came into our labs recently, to the familiar Android devices from HTC when it was announced in London. To further demonstrate the popularity of the Google Android platform, we're even seeing Huawei taking its first step, introducing a wide range of Android phones to the Singapore market. This includes the Huawei IDEOS, which is the company's first Android 2.2 device, and more importantly, its first device to enter the ever competitive mobile phone scene in Singapore.
Yes, we are seeing a lot more Froyo-loaded devices ready for retail stores. And that is a definite indication that Android is growing much stronger in the region. In fact, a recent study done by GfK has shown a significant rise in Android smartphone sales, from US$0.92 million in Jan 2010 to US$11.8 million by June 2010.
But when we look at the myriad of devices on Android 2.2, one does wonder if there's a disparity between the hardware and software. Google's open-source platform is built to fit all form factors, yet there are limitations. Can you imagine running a full Flash-enabled site on a device with a moderate processor? Or if you wish to utilize Froyo's Wi-Fi hotspot feature, would you leave it to an underpowered (in battery terms) device? And let's not forget about the upcoming tablets, like the Huawei Ideos Tablet S7. We had a second glimpse of the 7-inch tablet at the Huawei launch, which is still loaded with the earlier Android 2.1. Due to its Android's various iterations, fragmentation is still an issue, and from what Google has shared, Android 2.2 isn't optimized for tablets.
Therein lies the problem - for every mobile hardware solution, there's always the concern of whether the given OS is able to complement the device. A well-designed mobile OS is only as good as the hardware supporting it. Companies such as Huawei are attempting to offer an affordable (though unconfirmed) Android 2.2 device that will appeal to the masses. But the truth is, there isn't a model that's a perfect fit for all.
Hanker not for the latest OS, we say, but a device with the features that you'll most likely have the most use out of.
Can we expect more Android 2.2 devices from manufacturers? That's a definite yes, and this poses a challenge for Huawei to gain a stronger foothold in the Android smartphone realm. Unfortunately, devices that were announced before the IDEOS, such as the Huawei S8500 and S8800, won't be seeing an Android 2.2 update. But by February next year, at the annual Mobile World Congress, Huawei promises a stronger Android portfolio.
Seow Tein Hee / Former Associate Editor
Attuned to the latest mobile technology and news, Tein Hee is always on the lookout for innovation and creativity in the mobile industry.