Finally we can say with certainty that Android 2.3 is called Gingerbread. Continuing the alphabetic-gastronomic nomenclature of its predecessors, Gingerbread has introduced some interesting functionality to Google’s mobile operating system.
Gingerbread is going to be available for the first time in Google’s own Nexus S, which has been purposely built with the operating system in mind. The Nexus S will also run a clean version of 2.3 so users will get the full Gingerbread experience. Gingerbread will be rolled out to other Android devices with Samsung (who built the Nexus S in collaboration with Google) and HTC likely to be at the front of the queue to get the update to their devices currently running Froyo. Gingerbread will probably be coming to devices other than the Nexus S in early 2011.
So what will Gingerbread actually add to your phone? Well let’s see, shall we.
It seems as if black is the new.....black. The user interface has been refined to make it faster and more power-efficient. A simplified visual theme of colours against black brings “vividness and contrast to the notification bar, menus, and other parts of the UI.” Nothing major here but the simple black theme does look nice and easier to read but obviously we’ll only know how it really works when we try it out for ourselves.
Better text input
The Android soft keyboard has been redesigned and optimized for faster text input and editing. The keys themselves are reshaped and repositioned, making them easier to see and press accurately, according to Google. The keyboard also displays the current character and dictionary suggestions in a larger style that is easier to read. The spelling prediction system has also been given an overhaul making it more intuitive. Another improvement sees “multitouch key-chording” allow the user to enter numbers and symbols by pressing Shift+letter and ?123+symbol, without needing to manually switch input modes.
One-touch word selection and copy/paste
Android 2.3 will allow you to select a word with one touch of your finger, via press-hold, which will speed up the copy and paste process no end. The user can adjust the selection area as needed by dragging a set of bounding arrows to new positions, then copy the bounded area by pressing anywhere within the selection. For text entry, the user can slide-press to enter a cursor mode, then reposition the cursor easily and accurately by dragging the cursor arrow. According to Google, the new selection and cursor modes eliminates the use of a trackball should your handset use one.
Gingerbread takes a more active role in managing apps that are keeping the device awake for too long or that are consuming CPU while running in the background.
You can also see where the power is being consumed by system components and running apps by providing an accurate overview of how the battery is being used, with details of the usage and relative power consumed by each component or application.