What we may see in Gingerbread, as tipped at Google IO in May

With the release of Android 2.3 Gingerbread imminent (I can almost smell it!), everyone is talking about the new phone OS, and what cool features might be coming along with.  We're looking forward to seeing how some things that needed changing were handled, and I'm itching to have a good look at the UI changes, no matter how subtle they may be. 

But if we have a look back at Google I/O in May, there are some other big, welcome changes that just might be coming.  Vic Gundotra (Google Vice President of engineering) gave us a bunch of teasers during the Day 2 keynote last spring; let's have a look after the break.

To follow along, here's the YouTube video of the keynote speech (best presentation ever).  It's long (over 45 minutes), but it's chock full 'o goodies and worth a second look.

YouTube link for mobile viewing

Much of what Vic shows us in this presentation has already come to light.  Some was built into Froyo, some came alater via the Market, and some we're still waiting for.  The whole video is worth watching, but I've taken the time to dig out the bits we're interested in.

Fast forward to about 31 minutes in.  This is where Vic starts showing us what is coming in the future.  We can't be sure that his particular future is now, but with the Marketplace shake-up in the works it's a pretty good bet.

Browse the Market from your PC

The Android Market website in its current form, well, sucks.  It appears to be just something that was thrown together to provide some sort of web presence while the "real" site gets developed.  What Vic showed us hopefully was an early version of the real website.  In this version of the Market, you'll be able to browse all the apps, select ones to install, then install them to your device.  Without any wires or tethered connection.

I'm sure Google can pull this off, being the masters of the cloud that they are.  And here's hoping we see it very soon when Gingerbread drops.

The Google Music store

Music stores are nothing new.  The Amazon store that comes standard on most with Google devices works just fine, and I've used it myself a time or two.  But Google can move things from "just fine" to "damned amazing" with their own cloud based music store, tied in with the Market.  Imagine being able to download and delete music as you wish, with the cloud keeping track of what you have purchased -- just like Android apps are done now.  None of this download to your computer, then hook your device up to a wire, and going through a lengthly sync process just because you bought a song while web surfing.  And for those of us who use Linux on the desktop, this is the only option.  Vic says it best -- "there's this thing, called the internet."

Streaming music

No, we're not talking streaming music from the cloud here.  Slacker or Pandora do a fine job at that.  Google is taking things a step further and using the Android Market cloud to stream DRM free music stored on your computer in your iTunes or Windows Media library right to your Android device.  Vic tells us that Google bought out a company called Simplified Media to do just this.  I can't be the only music buff who is drooling over having a native solution to do this built in to my phone or media player. Goodbye, music-filled SD cards!


Of course, no update would be complete without ponies.  Let's hope Google can deliver.

Will we see any of this? It's more than likely. When will we see any of this? Soon, we hope.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.