Updating to Android 2.2 (Froyo) for the Impatient

Android-Flavored Froyo is available now - but only for the Nexus One

There’s been lots of buzz on Twitter, TechCrunch, Engadget and everywhere about Nexus One owners beginning to receive the much anticipated “Froyo” release of the Android operating system. Apparently, it’s on a very slow release schedule. For some users, it may take up to three weeks before they receive the update “over the air”. But if you’re an impatient Nexus One owner you can do what I just did and install the upgrade right now! Let’s find out how to do it …

I awoke this morning to see TechCrunch’s MG Siegler post what appeared to be the first news of Froyo’s availability. I frantically went to my phone’s Settings and tried to check for an update – but no luck.

Then I went to xda-developers.com and sure enough there was a very long thread (now over 132 pages) of fellow eager beavers waiting for release (and trying to figure out how to get it).

Several hours went by waiting for a semi-technical user to get the update and check the Android logs for the download location. It turns out you can get it straight from Google at https://android.clients.google.com/packages/passion/signed-passion-FRF50-from-ERE27.1e519a24.zip.

The folks at Android Central put up an quick how-to post back in February for the last system update. It’s pretty quick and easy to do. But there was one step that was a little tricky. So, I’ll post paraphrased instructions below:

Fair warning: This could turn your phone into a worthless piece of garbage if something goes wrong.
Important Note: If you hacked your phone – particularly if it’s rooted – you’ll need to revert the system back to a standard configuration before following the instructions below. To do that, check out this discussion thread over at XDA.
Update 2010-05-22 5:28:22 PST: The update file apparently is not for the AT&T version of the Nexus One – just the T-Mobile version.

  1. Download file using the link above. (George: To your computer, not to the phone yet.)
  2. Rename the file to ‘update.zip’.
  3. Note that if you’re using Windows and don’t have “show file extentsions” turned on in the file explorer you won’t see a .zip. Just rename it to “update” (no quotes, of course) because it’s already a zipped file.
  4. Using USB, plug the Nexus One into your computer.
  5. Copy the update.zip file onto your microSD card.
  6. With your Nexus One off, hold down the trackball and press the power button.
  7. You’ll be booted into a white screen with three Android robots on skateboards. Select “Bootloader.”
  8. On the next screen, select “Recovery.”
  9. Your phone will reboot, giving you a picture of the Android robot and an exclamation point inside a triangle.
  10. Now press the power button and volume up button at the same time. It could take a couple of tries. (George: This was tricky for me too. But it seems that you need to press slightly before pressing .
  11. Now (using the trackball this time) choose “Apply sdcard:update.zip” and let things run their course. (George: After the progress bar hits 100%, it’ll reboot automatically on it’s own 2 or 3 times. In less than 15 minutes it was good to go!)

So where’s Flash?
There have been a lot of headlines regarding the inclusion of Adobe Flash in Froyo. But, some of you who followed the steps above may be wondering why they can’t see Flash content. It turns out you need to install the Flash 10.1 Beta from the Android Market. Be careful what you search for in the Market:

  1. Open the Android Market App.
  2. Search for “flash 10.1″ (“flash” alone doesn’t always get an exact match).
  3. Go ahead and install it.

Update 2010-05-22 5:28:22 PST: It seems like the most important Flash site on Earth is Hulu.com. So I tried checking that out and, well, Flash for Android is clearly a beta release. Thumbnails of videos fail to load. And so far no luck tuning into an episode of ‘Lost’. Oh, and I’m trying this on WiFi. I don’t feel lucky enough to go to 3G mode. Also, the Flash 10.1 beta seems to only work with the Android browser (no luck with Opera). Simpler Flash sites seem to be working fine, though. Further update: according to a commenter (Daniel), the problems with Hulu are simply with Hulu. Apparently the wads over there are blocking content to the Android. Another commenter (Travis) says that you can “fix” Hulu’s mistakes with some post-install hacks (read below).

So anyway, how is it? (Added at 2010-05-22 06:01:18 PST)
In five words, I would describe Froyo as “a breath of fresh air”. It’s way better than the single point increase would indicate.

As was mentioned online in recent days, it’s way faster than previous Android releases. I’ve owned the first Android phone (the HTC Dream/G1) prior to my current Nexus One – which I kind of reluctantly bought (if only there was a Droid-like phone that worked on the US T-Mobile network). Both phones irritated me constantly – namely their speed and responsiveness.

So far, it seems to be living up to the performance promises. I always suspected that processes that seemed idle weren’t actually idle – but doing weird crap (like polling) in the background. It is much snappier (and therefore less irritating) now.

However, it doesn’t yet seem to be as responsive as the iPhone OS. And I’m comparing the reasonably new Nexus One to an old, first generation iPod Touch. But it is close enough to not irritate me.

Furthermore (and this is probably a hardware issue), the soft keyboard still doesn’t have the iPhone/iPod Touch’s tap accuracy. Of course, neither device compares in accuracy to a real keyboard (Droid, G1, Hiptop).

Update 2010-05-23 7:00:19 PST: Another major expected feature of Froyo is the much needed ability to store apps on an SD Card (actually Micro SD – Are there actually any Android devices that use a full sized SD Card?). Many Android users (self included) have been frustrated by “Phone storage space is getting low” messages. Unfortunately, that’s not going to instantly go away.

It turns out that apps need to be specifically coded to allow themselves to be stored on an SD Card. At over 22 MB, Google Earth was the largest app installed on my phone(s). After upgrading to Froyo, I tried re-installing Google Earth to see it I can put it on my 8GB Micro SD Card – no such luck. I then did a Market search using the term “froyo” and found a few apps that were updated to support Froyo. On the short list is “Footie Live” – a ‘soccer’ score tracking app. When I installed “Footie Live” I was able to go to Settings->Applications->Manage applications and move “Footie Live” to the SD Card. For all other apps, the “Move to SD Card” button is inactive.