The Android Police web site has a development copy of Android 2.2 installed on a Nexus One and has written about what they are seeing when running performance benchmark tests on this forthcoming build of Android. What they report is over 5X improvements in speed as measured by running the Linpack for Android testing program. Because the testing was done using existing hardware, the conclusion is that Google has made significant optimizations to Android to boost performance.
I am very optimistic that we will see noticeable speed improvements in the next release of Android, but I am not sure the final product will demonstrate the performance found by Android Police. I say this since Android Police probably does not have the final build which may have additional software running on the phone that could impact performance. As Android Police points out, one good reason why Google is focusing on improving the performance of Android is the inclusion of Flash, which will use a lot of processing power to provide smooth video playback.
While Android Police is excited by the performance gains in Android 2.2, another area where we may see improvements thanks to these optimizations is in battery life. As a rule, the less processing a computer is performing the less power it consumes, so if Google eliminated processing overhead to gain speed improvements, the phone processor may work less and that could mean longer battery life.
The takeaway for me from this news is that the current version of Android has a lot of room for improvement. In fact, that might explain why we have not seen Android 2.1 released for the older Android phones like the myTouch 3G, because Android 2.1 didn’t significantly improve performance. Instead, the performance difference between the myTouch 3G and the Nexus One is almost entirely because of the faster processor in the Nexus One.