Tips Moving From 2.1 To Froyo (2.2)

Posted: August 23, 2010 in Droid 1, Droid 2, Droid X
Tags: , , ,

Did you just recently get your fill of Froyo on the Droid 1, or through the leaked copy on the Droid X?  Or maybe you just picked up a fresh new Droid 2?  Whatever the case may be, you mind some things different or out of place when coming from Android 2.1 to 2.2, and we’re not talking about just the obvious addition of Flash.  Here’s just a few tips and insights into Froyo, how it differs from 2.1 and how you can maximize all that performance of the beast within Froyo.

To start with, if you’re running a Droid 2 or a Droid X and have Froyo, you’ll notice an updated lock screen right off the bat.  Nothing major here, just a translucent blue color slide and buttons rather than the stock green.  A nice touch, but no functionality or security improvements there that I’m aware of.

Another thing you’ll notice the first time you load into a clean install of Froyo, is a new widget.  This is a little Android guy with a text bubble coming off to the left of him and offering tips and ideas for your Android experience.  Honestly, I find it a little useless, but that could very well be due to the fact I had been using Android for 8 months before ever seeing it show up on any device. (Note Droid X users, you saw this when you bought your phone.  It was exclusively ported to 2.1 by Motorola.)

Another subtle but welcome difference is in the Android market.  Now when you click on an App, you get two tabs.  It loads to the program description tab like you would normally see, but now there’s a second tab just for comments.  This isn’t major, but it’s a nice separation so you can quickly view a list of comments rather than the top 3 on the application description page.

The camera got a little upgrade no matter what device you’re on.  I’m assuming the Droid 2 has this by default since it runs Froyo out of the box, but one thing I was missing on my Droid X was the on screen button to take a picture.  This was my secret to getting so many non-blurry pictures with my Droid 1, that it was almost a reason for me not to buy this phone, but alas with Froyo, my on screen button is back, and is more than a welcome addition.  For Droid 1 owners, you already had your button, but one nice little feature you’ll find is everything rotates with your phone now in the camera app.  All of the buttons on the side, as well as the thumbnail of the last taken picture will rotate with your phone whether you’re holding it in portrait or landscape mode.

Now some performance observations, tweaks –

Froyo introduces a new auto-adjust screen brightness mode.  Although it’s a good theory, it’s a battery killer for sure, so I’d suggest staying clear of this setting.

If you have a Droid 2 or Droid X, Motorola has its own power management utility in the settings.  This is improved in Froyo, and gives you 3 instead of 2 preset configurations, as well as lets you now create your own totally custom battery profile, rather than just customize a preset one already offered.

For Droid 1 users, although there’s no dedicated power management app, you can still change program specific settings like only allowing updates over wi-fi, or changing settings that keep phones from going into standby if it’s unneeded in that app.

I don’t think it’s any secret, with Froyo came Flash.  With that came a power-hungry web plugin.  It’s great to have flash, and I’m not going to tell you to disable it by any means, but if you find it’s slowing down your browsing and really sucking your battery down when viewing web pages that have flash content, consider switching it to “on demand.”  Go into the browser settings, select plug-ins and choose On Demand from the options. This will make flash content appear as a green download arrow in place of where the flash content would display.  This will let you tap to download any flash content you want to view on a web page rather than automatically downloading it all (this is extremely useful if you frequent sites with Flash ads.)

Another thing to finally come to truth with.  Ditch the task killer!  I know everyone has their own opinion, and I was an avid user that would be clicking Kill All after everything I did to ensure I had all that memory “free” so it was ready for whatever I wanted to do next.  The truth is though, as people have stated, Android really does manage its memory well.  Just because a task kill may say you only have 13MB free at the time, doesn’t mean your phone is going to come to a crawl.  The system basically takes a snap shot of what you were doing in a program at a given time.  It then reserves the memory it was using for that task in case you want to jump back into it, so it will load quickly, however, if you start doing other stuff and need more memory that what your system says you have, it will simply release one of those snapshots, and free up memory for a new one.  This doesn’t take any extra time, and in fact makes the system run quicker when it can get snapshots of your 3 or 4 most frequently used apps in its memory.  To top that off, Froyo implements a hierarchy system that labels apps with importance, and if it has a high enough level, a task kill will simply ignore it now.  So you really are at that point just closing out stuff you actually use and then use more resources re-opening them.

This flows nicely into the next point.  Let Froyo load!  This is truly an operating system you’re running on your phone, just like on a PC.  These phones are just mini computers in our pockets, and more.  When’s the last night you were able to get GPS directions on a laptop, or use your laptop to go geo-caching? Or make a non-voip phone call?  You didn’t, because they don’t do that, but your smartphone does.  It has a bunch of things going on inside of it, so it needs a little time to start up and get going, just like a PC does.  This holds even more true with Froyo and the updates to its memory management and application prioritization.

If you want a nice way to ensure you’re closing an app when you’re done with it after giving up the task killers, simply use the back button.  It may be quicker to hit the home button, and if you’re intentionally trying to switch between multiple apps, then definitely use the home button, but if you’re done with an app, pressing the back button repeatedly to get out of it will in turn exit the application, and in essence take a much smaller snapshot to hold in memory.  At that point it would only take a tiny snapshot that it was recently used, so it could show up in your recently used apps when holding down the home button.

Lastly, something you won’t be able to see or play with, but is worth mentioning, is JIT (Just In Time.) This is the new and improved dalvik compiler for Android with boosts the speeds of the web browser and OS in general up to 400%.  This is the underlying reason there has been so much hype and demand for Froyo, it simply puts the OS where it should be in terms of responsiveness and speed.  So while you’re zipping around your refreshed or freshly new device, remember the reason those apps and web pages are popping up so quickly now, is JIT running its engines at full throttle under the hood!


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