On Call: All about Froyo

With so many CNET readers talking about Froyo, CNET's cell phone editor devotes his On Call column to your questions, praises, and complaints about the update.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
4 min read

On Call runs every two weeks, alternating between answering reader questions and discussing hot topics in the cell phone world.

After last week's brief review of the Froyo experience on the HTC Evo 4G, CNET readers responded in force. Many were ecstatic about Froyo's new features, others were frustrated that the download still had not yet hit their phone, and others were troubled at some of the update's "hidden" changes. That's why I'm dedicating this edition of On Call to your questions about the good, the bad, and the ugly of Froyo.

Q: I noticed that since I updated to 2.2, there are so many open apps. Before Froyo, I only had a few apps running when I turned on my phone, but now it's like 14 to 19. I kill them using the Android Advanced Task Killer, but less than five minutes later they're running again. It's kind of annoying, even if I love the Evo.
- Silva

A: I've heard about this problem from quite a few people. And when I tried to replicate the issue on CNET's Evo, I noticed that I also had 19 apps running after turning on the handset. What's more, I hadn't used some of the running titles in weeks. Like Silva, I tried killing the extra apps, but they were back a few minutes later.

Though Android fans will argue that you shouldn't even use a task killer, I'm not inclined to agree. The Froyo issue is very real and most of the Android-focused blogs are reporting that the update has affected most task-killer apps.

When I checked with Sprint, a spokeswoman confirmed that news. The carrier's engineers currently are testing the Froyo compatibility of Android Advanced Task Killer, and when they get back to me I'll let you know. I'm also checking with the App's developer, but the company hasn't responded yet. I'll report back when it does. In the meantime, you can kill apps in the Settings menu (go to "Applications" and choose "Manage Applications), but that's a pretty clunky experience.

Another point to consider is that apps like Sprint Football Live, Sprint Navigation, Sprint Zone, Nascar, Footprints, Amazon MP3, and Stocks are preloaded into the Evo's ROM. That means they'll be there each time you turn on your device.

Q: Will a Froyo-equipped Evo be able to tether for free?
- Paul

A: That's been a popular question, but the answer depends on a few factors. Though Froyo can add integrated tethering, the specifics updates coming to the Evo and Moto's Droid won't include that feature. There are a selection of third-party apps that will bring tethering to your phone, but it won't be a native feature.

If you're comfortable with downloading and using an app, PdaNet is one of the more popular titles available. You can download it from the Android Market, the developer's Web site, or right here on CNET's Download.com. You also can go to Download.com to see Seth Rosenblatt's full review. I haven't used it personally, but Seth gives it high marks.

The basic version is free, but you will be restricted from using secure Web sites like Gmail and sites that use sensitive information (like your bank). Sure, you could get around that restriction with a Web anonymizer, but I'd recommend buying the full version for top functionality. The license for the full version is $23.95, though at the time of this writing it's on sale for $18.95. The license restricts you to using one phone, but you can connect that handset to as many PCs as you like. You're also entitled to free upgrades.

Once you're set up, your continued cost depends on how you connect the phone to the Web. If you use your carrier's data service, you'll pay for it through your standard data plan. But if you use Wi-Fi, you can browse for free.

Q: Will Froyo change the Evo 4G's Wi-Fi hot-spot feature?
- Donnie

A: Though Android 2.2 can add hot-spot functionality, Froyo won't affect how the Evo currently handles that feature. If Evo owners want to turn their devices into hotpots, they'll continue to pay $29.99 per month for the privilege.

Other readers have asked the same question about the Droid and Froyo. Unfortunately, the answer in that case is also no. You can, of course, tether a Droid to a PC using one of the third-party apps, but keep in mind that tethering and a hot spot are two distinct features. With tethering, you're using the phone as a modem for one device. With a Wi-Fi hot spot, however, the phone is serving as the Internet connection and supporting multiple devices.

Q: Since I've updated my software on the Evo, I've had several issues. Battery life is worse than before, Internet is extremely slow, I'm unable to play YouTube videos, and I've had more frequent call drops. I hope Sprint sends an update soon.
- Laurie

A: I have yet to experience these problems; even my battery life remains about the same. I'll check with Sprint, but if any readers have experienced issues like Laurie's, please let me know.

Q: The Froyo update is great! Your articleand video are very informative. I have one question, though. Will this update also furnish an native equalizer, with bass boost, to the Evo?
- Christopher

A: Unfortunately, even with Froyo, the Evo still doesn't have an integrated equalizer application. Hopefully, we'll get it soon.