Android 2.3, codenamed Gingerbread, was revealed by Google this morning. It will ship first on the upcoming Nexus S smartphone, which was built by Google in collaboration with Samsung. According to an Android developer, we will likely see it rolled out as an update for Nexus One handsets in the next few weeks. We look forward to doing a full review when it arrives on devices, but we decided to get an early look via the SDK.
We tested Android 2.3 by running it in the emulator supplied with the official Android SDK. This gave us the ability to check out some of the user interface improvements and look at a few of the new features. It’s important to remember, however, that the platform image included in the SDK is not the final one that will be rolled out on hardware and is missing several components of the platform. The emulator is also a lot slower than running Android on actual hardware, so it’s hard to get an accurate feel for the impact of the performance improvements at this time.
As you can see, the home screen has undergone some minor theming changes. The notification bar is now solid black and the bottom panel is darker. Some of the icons have been tweaked to match the black and green palette. In terms of functionality, the home screen still largely behaves as before. It hasn’t caught up with third-party options such as LauncherPro yet.
The actual notification panel is darker and a bit more elegant. The bottom part still has a gradient, but the rest of it looks a lot flatter. The clear button is more rectangular.
The dialer has a much more subdued look. The bubble gradients on the buttons and text bar were stripped out in favor of a more static flat appearance. The rounded corners of the bottom rectangle have been squared off a bit more.
Application toolbar buttons have a black background with more pronounced transparency, but are still quite readable. The toolbar overflow menu is designed to match the new look of the buttons. The dark gray font of the shortcut text is a bit hard to read and could use with more contrast.
In the next screenshot, you can see the new text selection mechanism. You can drag the sliders on each size to change the range of the selection. It looks a lot like the equivalent feature that is available on some of the newer Motorola and Samsung Android handsets. Please note that the keyboard in the screenshot below is a multilingual keyboard that comes with the SDK and is not the updated keyboard that is shipping in Android 2.3. We were, unfortunately, not able to test the new keyboard yet.
The SIP calling feature is now available over WiFi. We couldn’t test it in the emulator, but you can see the new “Internet calling” field when you edit a contact from the platform’s address book.
The theme changes in Android 2.3 are subtle, but elegant. The simpler color palette looks like a good direction for Android and we like the look of the more translucent menu. The flatter and more rectangular feel is a bit surprising, but adds a nice flavor. It’s possible that these changes are a sort of transitional step between the 2.x and upcoming 3.x series, which is expected to bring more significant user interface changes.
Reference : http://arstechnica.com/