With the impending launch of the Nexus S smartphone, Android 2.3 (codenamed: Gingerbread) is finally upon us. A few days ago, Google released details about the new features in Android 2.3. In October, we speculated about these changes, so we thought it might be helpful to list out some of the broad enhancements Google is planning.
Here are some of the updates and new features:
- Better user interface (UI): Colors and interfaces across the OS are more consistent and the overall background color is now black instead of white.
- Multitouch keyboard: The keyboard has been enhanced to allow faster, more accurate touch typing at high speeds and now supports multitouch. Users can also use the shift key to type numbers without having to switch to an alternate screen. Selecting words and copying/pasting is also more intuitive
- Power management: Battery life has become a big problem for some Android users, as rogue apps will continue to hog CPU and data in the background. This is being addressed. Android 2.3 should better manage applications and how much power they use. The “manage applications” section will also be easier to get to and better show the storage and memory being used by apps.
- VOIP: Making calls over the Internet, or Voice Over IP, will be an integrated feature. This feature will likely be disabled by carriers.
- Near-field communications: This is the new hot thing. It will allow you to use your phone as a credit card by swiping it about four inches from a wireless reader. It will only be as useful as the number of places that adopt NFC technology.
- Camera: Since Android phones will all now come with a front-facing camera as well, users can now access it and take pictures of their own face whenever they want.
- Video games: A number of technical enhancements have been made so that games can use the CPU and graphics capabilities more effectively, as well as motion detection and other fancy effects. Engadget has found that the OS seems to support PlayStation-like controls, if a device happens to have A,B,C, L1, L2, R1, or R2 gaming buttons on it. No such devices currently exist, but it lends weight to the PlayStation phone rumor.
- Multimedia: 2.3 comes with audio mixing capabilities for developers and possibly users as well, allowing you to spruce up how your audio sounds on the device. It also supports more video and audio types, such as VP8, AAC, WebM, and AMR.
Sounds like these enhancements should tide us over until the next version of Android, named Honeycomb, comes out in early 2011. Are you excited for Gingerbread?