Google has for the first time officially announced Android 2.3 Gingerbread – the next version of Android operating system for mobile phones and tablet devices and has declared the main improvements and new additions incorporated in the upcoming version of the platform.
Last version of Android 2.2 FroYo was released in May 2010 while the first smartphone which came preloaded with the FroYo was mighty Motorola Droid 2 months later in August 2010. The latest version Android 2.3 Gingerbread would be seen first on Samsung’s upcoming Nexus S smartphone.
Google has listed a whole lot of new features of Gingerbread on its android-developers-blog and also indicated that Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) also includes many new platform technologies and APIs to help developers create great app. Here are the some of the highlights while a complete list of Android 2.3 platform overview can be found here.
The user interface is refined making it easier to learn, faster to use, and more power-efficient. A simplified visual theme of colors against black brings vividness and contrast to the notification bar, menus, and other parts of the UI.
Enhancements for game development
To improve overall responsiveness, Google has added a new concurrent garbage collector and optimized the platform’s overall event handling.
In addition, updated SDK tools allows developers to now get native access to more parts of the system by exposing a broad set of native APIs.
From native code, applications can now access input and sensor events, EGL/OpenGL ES, OpenSL ES, and assets, as well a new framework for managing lifecycle and windows.
For precise motion processing, developers can now use several new sensor types, including gyroscope, using updated SDK tools.
To provide a great multimedia environment for games and other applications, Android 2.3 Gingerbread would come with added support for the new video formats VP8 and WebM, as well as support for AAC and AMR-wideband encoding.
The Android 2.3 platform also provides new audio effects such as reverb, equalization, headphone virtualization, and bass boost.
New forms of communications
The latest version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform now includes support for front-facing camera, SIP/VOIP, and Near Field Communications (NFC), to let developers include new capabilities in their applications. The user can make voice calls over the internet to other users who have SIP accounts.
Faster, more intuitive text input
The Android soft keyboard is redesigned and optimized for faster text input while the keys themselves are reshaped and repositioned for improved targeting. The keyboard also displays the current character and dictionary suggestions in a larger, more vivid style that is easier to read.
Improved power management
By managing apps that are keeping the device awake for too long or that are consuming CPU while running in the background, — closing them if appropriate — the system would now ensure best possible performance and maximum battery life.
Control over applications
A shortcut to the Manage Applications control (under settings menu) now appears in the Options Menu in the Home screen and Launcher, making it much easier to check and manage application activity.
A new Downloads application gives the user easy access to any file downloaded from the browser, email, or another application.
The application now lets the user access multiple cameras on the device, including a front-facing camera, if available.
New Developer Features
Alongside the new Android 2.3 platform, Google also released updates to the SDK Tools (r8), NDK, and ADT Plugin for Eclipse (8.0.0).
Android 2.3 Gingerbread delivers a variety of features and APIs that let developers bring new types of applications to the Android platform. Broadly these new features involve:
- Enhancements for gaming
- New forms of communication
- Rich multimedia
Android 2.3 Gingerbread User Guide
You can download printable Android 2.3 User’s Guide (6.1 MB PDF) which includes Android basics, advance usages and more.