Google's next version of Android, 2.2 "Froyo", is obviously a huge step, and we've done what we can to explain what's so great about it. But enough reading, why not try it for yourself?
Nexus One owners are reporting early Froyo updates already, but chances are, you don't own a Nexus One. Any mobile OS with apps has an SDK—a developer kit—which gives devs the tools needed to create and test apps for the platform. And any good SDK comes with an emulator for the OS itself, so devs can test apps without actually installing them on a phone. Apple's got one, but it only works on Macs. Microsoft's got one, but it only works on PCs. Google's Android emulator, on the other hand, works on any platform, and it's totally free. Here's how to load up Android Froyo on your desktop in just a few minutes.
First, you'll need:
• The Android SDK (Windows, Mac)
• A reasonably powerful computer (netbooks will strain to emulate a smartphone)
1. Extract the Android SDK. You should see a collection of folders and files including names like Platforms, Add-ons and Tools
2. In the Tools folder, open an app or script called Android. This will start the SDK manager app.
3. In the manager app, click the Available Packages button in the left column. This should present you with single option for download. This is a repository; downloading it will do nothing but give you new download options, so go ahead and do that.
4. From the new download list, select and download the following four items (This will take a few minutes—you're downloading the actual OS here, as well as some extra tools):
5. Once the downloads are completed and installed, navigate back to the "Virtual Devices" section in the left column of the SDK manager. On the right side of the window, click New.
6. This is the windows where you can define the parameters of your imaginary, emulated Android phone. Aside from the mandatory Android 2.2 target setting, you'll need to decide on a few settings. You can get by with a small virtual SD card, so feel free to set that at a few hundred megabytes. For the screen resolution, don't necessarily choose the highest setting (WVGA854)—it's 854 pixels tall, which may be taller than your computer's screen, if you have a MacBook or other smaller widescreen notebook.
7. Click Create AVD. Your computer might lock up for a second, and the app may become unresponsive for a bit longer than that, but don't worry—just let it do its thing.
8. Now, under Virtual Devices, you'll have a simulated Android phone. Select your phone, and click Start. (Startup can take a little while. If it's not done in two or three minutes, try again, or create a new virtual device.)
Aaaaand that's it: You're in Android Froyo! Look around a little.
Right, so what you're using now is barebones Android 2.2. This is the raw, open source core of the OS, recognizable as Android 2.2, but missing a lot of little pieces, including close-source apps like Google Maps. You won't be able to test out Flash, for example, but luckily, you can install all manner of other apps. Here's how, according to Google:
1. Download a development tool called Eclipse (you want the IDE for Java Developers at this link)
2. Install the Android Development Toolkit in Eclipse
3. Point the ADK to the directly where you're keeping your Android SDK files (the same place where you extracted the SDK earlier, unless you moved it)
4. Import and run Android apps. (You'll have to search the internet for Android apps you want to try. The file format is .apk, and many sites host them independently of the Android market.)
Please add in your experiences in the comments—your feedback is a huge benefit to our Saturday guides. Enjoy your Froyo, and have a great weekend!