5 Reasons We're Crazy Excited About Android 2.3 Gingerbread

The Nexus S might be a groovy piece of hardware, but what we're really hot and bothered for is Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Google has an in-depth overview for developers, but here's the highlights of what we're digging in Android 2.3.

A refreshed UI

The Android UI in Gingerbread isn't vastly overhauled, but aesthetically, it's being tugged in a quirkier, nerdier pseudo-1980s direction: Lots more "Android green" and orange on black, with a flatter, two-dimensional feel to system graphics. Fun! How's it better for users? Well, the notifications bar is revamped, there's faster shortcuts to the task manager, options and a new system-wide downloads manager.

it easier for the user to navigate and control the features of the system and device."

A better keyboard and copy & paste

Yes, this deserves to be called out separately from the rest of the UI, since a huge weakpoint for Android's been the mediocre stock keyboard. The new keyboard not only looks better, it's functionally improved in several ways. The new layout is more spaced out with redesigned, easier-to-hit key targets, and it uses multitouch key-chording (finally!), so typing is legitimately faster. Copy and paste is less finicky too, so you don't need a trackball to make it useable - it's easier to select what you want to copy with a more iPhone-like system of cursor selection.

Internet calling natively

I'd better dollars to donuts that carriers are going to strip this out once they get their hands on Android 2.3, but natively and system-wide (in the dialer and contacts), Gingerbread supports VoIP calls to SIP addresses. One small step for pure data, stomped to death by carriers.

It's faster

It's gonna be even faster than 2.2, which offered a huge performance boost on its own thanks to a just-in-time compiler for Dalvik, the virtual machine layer Android executes apps in. Android 2.3 adds a concurrent garbage collector the Dalvik VM, which Google says "minimises application pauses, helping to ensure smoother animation and increased responsiveness in games and similar applications".

It also is just plain faster at responding:

The plaform now handles touch and keyboard events faster and more efficiently, minimizing CPU utilization during event distribution. The changes improve responsiveness for all applications, but especially benefit games that use touch events in combination with 3D graphics or other CPU-intensive operations.

Oh and it's got newer video drivers for better looking games.

Better battery life

Despite being faster and prettier, battery life is going to better too. (As TechCrunch notes.) Why? Android is going to be more aggressive about managing apps running in the background, minimising power draw (and boosting speed at the same time).

It's funny, a lot of the new stuff in Gingerbread - like the new UI and VoIP - won't make it to most of the Android phones offered by carriers, even after the inexorably long wait for 2.3. But that doesn't mean we can't be excited about it.



    And that's where Android fails. So many versions and the carries stuffing around with the feature set.

    Google needs to make this new phone universally available, by-pass the carriers or give us access to the OS as an option to by-pass the carrier version.

      You may want to check sales stats, adoption rates, and market share for Android and come back and tell us if that's where Android is failing.

      If Gingerbread is so awesome then people will go out and buy a phone with it, update their phone themselves or just wait for their carrier.

      Or god forbid they just continue being happy with their perfectly functional phone.

      I agree that the carriers screwing with Android is an annoying and pointless exercise, but it's hardly a failing of Android and Google. Remeber, Google tried to bypass the carriers and it wasn't a success.

      Installing a custom ROM is so simple, safe and reversible these days that there's no real reason to be left behind.

      And for those who don't know or care about what the latest version of Android is, they'll continue to happily use their devices.

      It's also worth noting that most of the features in this article are things that can be added to previous versions of Android with free software.

      I find it very amusing that the fact Android is so GOOD that carriers have to restrict certain features to bring it in line with other platforms is somehow a negative.

      The Nexus S with 2.3 will likely be available directly from Google too, the same way the Nexus One was.

      "Google needs to.... give us access to the OS as an option to by-pass the carrier version."

      That's the very definition of open-source. Any user can simply root their phone fairly pain-free to run stock Android. So there's really no excuse, if you really want these features, to be using the carrier version.

    Need an 850MHz UMTS version ASAP!

      Yes please!

    As seen in the first video, the on-screen keyboard experience is one area that definitely needs attention to bring it up to iOS standards. I have an HTC Desire running froyo (and have tried a quite a few different HTC/Android keyboard layouts with it) and iOS kicks butt with the speed at which I can enter text in both portrait and landscape orientation. The multi-touch just seems so much more responsive, and character input much more accurate. Auto-suggestion also works very well the majority of the time.

    And yes to prevent a flame war, I know iOS fails in many other ways when compared to Android, but keyboard is not one of them. Due to flexibility and weight/size/style of phone, I'd actually rather the software based keyboard on my iPhone 4 to any hardware qwerty phone out there.

      oh and the current copy and paste system on Android sucks too. Good to see they are copying Apple's exact implementation of it with Gingerbread (not a bad thing given how well it works).

      AGREE! I just tried out a Dell Streak and the keyboard was its biggest failing. Solve that and I'm there!

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