There's a lot going on new in Gingerbread from the end user perspective, but there's just as much new behind the scenes, and the real meat and potatoes lies with the core changes that developers can use to make a great thing even better. While there's bound to be countless small changes, we can have a look at the major changes and what they mean to us non-developers
New base Linux kernel version
Starting at the bottom of the Gingerbread pyramid, the Linux kernel has been updated to 2.6.35. This is the kernel version that third-party ROM developers have been using for a while, and it provides more stability and speed. Look for the new stock kernel to show some of the improvements we're used to from custom kernels in use today.
New media framework
OpenCore (the current Froyo media framework) has been completely replaced. All the previous codec support has been maintained, and support for new technology like VP8 video compression, and WebM video containers has been implemented. Gingerbread is set up and ready to keep pace with the newest audio and video files as they are produced.
Besides the new SIP calling stack, and Near Field Communication support we're all talking about, there's a new BlueZ stack in Gingerbread. Bluetooth 2.1 support means better Bluetooth performance across a wide array of BT devices. That's something we all will love to see.
The Dalvik runtimes
There has been quite a few improvements to the Dalvik virtual machine (that's what was improved with a just-in-time compiler (JIT) in Froyo and makes things fast). For the end user, all we really need to know is that it should run a little faster, especially while rendering web pages. Here's the full list of changes for the hardcore Android geeks:
StrictMode debugging, for identifying performance and memory issues
Expanded I18N support (full worldwide encodings, more locales)
Faster Formatter and number formatting. For example, float formatting is 2.5x faster.
HTTP responses are gzipped by default. XML and JSON API response sizes may be reduced by 60% or more.
New collections and utilities APIs
Improved network APIs
Improved file read and write controls
Updates from upstream projects:
This is just the tip of the iceberg folks. There's a whole slew of API changes that give developers direct OS support for things like front facing cameras, gyroscopic sensors, and better OpenGL support. If you want to get dirty and check them all out, head to the source link. [Android Developer Highlights]
The Nexus One will be getting its Android 2.3 Gingerbread update "in a few weeks," says Google's Reto Meier. That's in contradiction to at least two unsourced reports today, one of which has since been spiked, that said it was rolling out right now. On Twitter, Meier responded:
The Nexus One OTA isn't happening just yet - should be coming in a few weeks.
If you've hacked your Nexus One to hell and back (like a lot of us) and want to get in on the initial OTA push (whenever it happens), we've got instructions on how to roll things back. And for those of you who just can't stand stock, rooted versions should hit quickly enough. [@retomeier]
If you're wanting to dig into the Android 2.3 user guide to get a better perspective of what, exactly is new within Gingerbread you can now download it via the Google Mobile support page. While most of us like to dig through and find stuff out on our own, it's still a handy thing to have kicking around especially for new Android users. Be sure to grab it and of course, if you have any Android 2.3 specific questions by all means, feel free to ask in our Android 2.3 forums that are now open. [Google]
The Nexus S will be the first Android phone to ship with Gingerbread, and Google's put together a nice little video featuring the backstory of the device, as well as more on Gingerbread. It's a good look at the "pure Google" experience. Check it out. [Google Blog]
Customers can purchase Nexus S for $529 as an unlocked phone without a contract. Nexus S optimized for T-Mobile’s network is available for $199 with a two-year service agreement and qualifying voice and data plan.
And so has CW: From £35 on contract to £549 SIM-free
The Samsung Nexus S is now live on Google's phone page, and we finally have full and official specs. Let's break 'em down:
OS: Android 2.3 Gingerbread
Screen: 4-inches @800x480
Processor 1GHz Samsung Cortex A8
512MB RAM, 16GB ROM
Wifi 802.11 b/g/n
Size: 63mm x 123.9mm x 10.8mm
Weight: 129 grams
What we don't yet know: Will it be unlocked? And how much will it cost, where can we buy it, and when can we buy it. Inquiring minds want to know, Google! [Google.com/phone] Thanks to everyone who sent this in!
Google's long-awaited e-reader service has gone semi-live this morning. It's not called Google Editions as previously believed. Books and are available online, and Android, the iPhone and iPod touch, the Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony eReader.
You'll need be running at least Android 2.1 to take advantage. (The good news is that some 83 percent of all Android phones are at least on Eclair.)
The store has some 3 million books available, with many around the $9.99 point that we're used to on Amazon. We'll give this the full what-for once the Android app is live in the Market. [Google eBooks via Google Mobile Blog]
Update: The Android app is now live, and download links are after the break.
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is uber-popular MMO World of Warcraft being played by real human hands on a HTC Desire. Now, we could get into semantics and say "Well, the game is being streamed online and isn't really 'running' on the phone" but that really isn't the point here, is it? No, the point is that simply leaving your house is no longer enough to escape the addictive clutches of WoW -- It can and will follow you where ever you go.
This wizardry is possible thanks to online game streaming company GameString, which is dedicated to bringing video game streaming to the masses. In short, the game is run in "the cloud" and then you access the game's user interface from any browser. The service was designed for computers, but why not take advantage of the fast data connections modern phones have? Looks like 4G just got a lot more useful. Check out the full video demo after the break. [DroidGamers]
Seesmic for Android -- the Twitter client of choice for a certain Android Central editor -- just got an update to Version 1.5. And if you haven't tried Seesmic yet, it's time to rectify that. With the update you now have:
A new UI: Refresh, compose and search buttons are front and center, no longer hidden under menu button.
Post to Salesforce Chatter.
Autocomplete usernames when you type @xxxxx.
Improved attachment uploader.
Ability to change avatar from the app.
Now available in eight languages.
And that's in addition to the usual excellent support for Facebook Google Buzz and multiple Twitter accounts. Seesmic's free, and download locations and video of it in action are after the break. [Seesmic blog]
If skyrocketing marketshare, multimillion-dollar ad revenue, and mind-boggling hardware specs aren't enough to keep Android on the tip of everyone's tongue, Photoshopping failures by advertising companies seem to crop up everywhere you look. Case in point -- this ad from a Vodaphone store in Sydney. There's either some misguided photo wizardry going on, or someone in the land down under has ported Android from a Galaxy S phone to the N8, with working mobile data, bluetooth, and Google's own applications up and running. I'm going with the former. Thanks, Ravrahn!
For all you folks running the CyaongenMod brand of custom ROM -- and if you're not, you really should give them a shot -- know that CM6.1 has just be released. Released as in stable Android 2.2.1, ready to go, flash at your convenience.
And the list of supported phones is large -- and growing: Nexus One, Droid, Dream/Sapphire, Hero, Desire, Incredible, Espresso (myTouch 3G Slide), Supersonic (Evo 4G), Legend, Vision (G2/DesireZ), Geeksphones ONE, Z71, Wildfire, NVidia Harmony, Ace (Desire HD) and Glacier (myTouch 4G).
For those of you new to the game, CM ROMs are more than custom ROMs, actually. They're built off the publicly available Android code -- that's the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) -- and include a ton of cool tweaks from developers throughout the community. You'll want to check out the CM6.1 changelog for all the goodies, and get to downloading. [CyanogenMod, CM6.1 changelog]
Notion Ink -- which has had a tablet in the works for a year or so now but hasn't yet produced -- says on its blog that Dec. 6 "is another big day for Android and you will find out how fast Notion Ink can work. [Eden is extremely compatible with 2.3]." (Eden is the name of the UI of Notion Ink's "Adam" tablet.)
And as our French pals at Frandroied point out, a Saint Nicolas cookie is a sort of Gingerbread cookie. And Dec. 6 is St. Nicholas Day.
So we've got Andy Rubin speaking, a manufacturer that has yet to bring a tablet to market and French cookies. That's good enough for us! (We're rolling our eyes as we type this.)
Actually, nobody wants to See Gingerbread more than us. But remember that even if it's announced tomorrow, it's not going to magically appear on most phones for quite some time. The Nexus One is likely to get it first (or maybe the not-quite-official Nexus S). As for everyone else? Before the end of the year is extremely unlikely -- and a lot of you are still waiting on Froyo.
So sit back, relax, and let's see what Uncle Andy brings us tomorrow.
Ok, we'll admit it's really not the most exciting news to post about, but it is cool. Google doodles, which have been in use since 1998 on the Google homepage, are now mobile. While a few have been made available in the past presumably to test them out, Google has now committed to making the majority of the doodles that are available to desktop users available to anyone running Android 2.0 and up on their mobile device. It's a finer detail but one that I'm sure some folks out there will enjoy. [@GoogleMobile]
Portions of this page are modifications based on work created and shared by the Android Open Source Project
and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution License. AndroidCentral is an independent site
that is not affiliated with or endorsed by Google.