I had upgraded my HTC Desire to Android OS version 2.2 (Froyo) in the beginning of August. The Desire and I were living with Froyo on board for the past three weeks.

So, how does the HTC Desire fare with its much awaited serving of Froyo? Read on.

Froyo is a significant but an incremental update on the Android OS platform which is being updated at a ferocious pace. The changes are somewhat subtle and given the fact that the HTC has its Sense User Interface(UI) on board, the changes are less noticeable than on Google’s Nexus One. Ars Technica reviewed Froyo on the Nexus One in great detail with performance benchmark tests.

This post gives a qualitative overview of the changes that I’ve noticed in my day to day usage of the HTC Desire.

General feel

This is more a qualitative assessment of the changes. I feel that my HTC Desire starts up and shuts down faster and has a noticeably longer standby time. Battery life is definitely longer and is consistent with the purported changes brought about in Froyo. That said, active usage of the device still takes its toll on battery life. Imagine surfing the net, using the GPS and Bluetooth radios and making a few calls while downloading new applications and streaming music via the net. Judicious management of widgets and daily usage is key in maximizing battery life. No doubt.

General appearance

The Sense UI has not gone through massive changes. The changes in the UI, as with the rest of the device, is subtle. The screen pattern lock grids have received a minor tweak in appearance. The appearance of applications on the launcher menu on double pressing the home button has also received a minor tweak as well. They have a tad feel of refinement to them.

Applications

Applications is an area that has received a noticeable change in Froyo. Prior to Froyo, applications could not be stored on the expandable SD memory. Well, that is somewhat alleviated with the new update. Yes, you can move your apps to the SD card but no all apps support this as yet. Some apps, notably Astrid Tasks, a fantastic tasks organizer application could not work when transferred to the SD card. The developers as a result had to release an update to negate the SD portability function. I am still waiting for comic books to be transferrable to the SD card as they take up plenty of memory on the miserly 512MB of internal storage provided in the Desire. The reality of the issue is this:the more popular apps will be updated promptly and the more obscure apps will be updated with time. Patience is key.

The stock application manager view now includes multiple tabs to view your downloaded in the various locations.

The other feature that is of note is the ability to download all available updates in one go with the “Update All” button.

Messaging

The messaging application has a nice addition. You can now place contact cards and multimedia attachments using a nicely laid out touch screen menu in the messaging pane. That’s a nice touch.

Google Toolbar

The Google toolbar has changed and categorizes the search to the Android Market, Web and the all encompassing All search.Voice search is integrated into this new toolbar.

HTC additions

HTC has made some nice additions to its applications. The FM Radio has RDS functionality. You can now listen to a broadcast via the external speaker. Of course, you still need have bundled earphone/antenna piece placed in the 3.5mm jack. There is new HTC Flashlight application with a unique HTC screen torchlight which allows the user three levels of light intensity settings. Nice addition for those sudden darkness moments.

720p recording

The Desire’s camera now allow a 1280 x 720 resolution recording(HD 720p) recording. To be honest, this resolution is merely a numbers game and the video capture is decent in daylight but is noticeably grainy in low light conditions. Cancellation of background noise isn’t the best. It’s good enough for casual video recordings. Those looking for decent HD recording on a mobile device should look to the iPhone4 and the upcoming N8 (very promising samples!).

3G Wifi hotspot (MiFi)

The star of the show is the ability to convert the Desire into a mobile hotspot modem. This functionality is simply super and allows the user to access the net using a laptop or netbook to send the that all important email or for casual surfing. I tried this functionality out to buy some air tickets online and it worked fine. The Wi Fi hotspot allows the user to configure the security so it is a relatively secure network. The standard caveats apply, such as the data cap of your mobile data plan, strength of your 3G network and the all important battery life issue. Usage of the 3G Wifi hotspot drains the Desire’s battery life. The feature is no doubt of great utility when you need a network for viewing some important online documents and emails.

So, there you have it! The Froyo on the Desire increases the functionality of device and makes it a Swiss Army knife of a gadget. Battery life issues aside, the judicious usage of these functions will enhance the usability and appreciation of the HTC Desire. Just remember to keep that charger handy.

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