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Google Previews Android 2.2 As Apple Antidote

Android 2.2 is coming soon, with support for Flash, speed improvements, and expanded enterprise features.

Last year, at the second Google IO developer conference, Google VP of engineering Vic Gundotra declared that the Web had won.

This year, at Google IO, there are still battles to be fought, mainly against Apple. Gundotra proclaimed the importance of providing "a free operating system that would enable innovation at every level of the stack."

"If Google did not act, we faced a draconian future," he said, a reference to Apple's tight control of its iPhone OS ecosystem.

It was a message that the audience of open-source developers -- hardly fans of rules or restrictions – applauded repeatedly.

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"If you believe in openness, if you believe in choice, if you believe in innovation from everyone then you believe in Android," he said.

In his discussion of the next version of the Android operating system, Android 2.2 -- otherwise known as "Froyo," -- pointed references to Apple's controlled approach were accompanied by bursts of engineering superiority.

After demonstrating an impressive cloud-to-device messaging API by which a user can with a single click send a map loaded in a computer browser to an Android phone, Gundotra mocked the iPhone's more limited push notification service.

"That's how you do a cloud-to-device API," said Gundotra, as if scolding computer science students.

To be sure, Android 2.2 comes with many worthy features. There's a new Dalvik JIT compiler in Android 2.2 that delivers a 2x to 5x performance increase over Android 2.1, new enterprise capabilities like Exchange support and policy management APIs, and the V8 JavaScript engine has been added to the Android browser, improving JavaScript performance by a factor of 2x to 3x.

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