Android 2.3 Gingerbread is the next iteration in this open source mobile operating system. It brings along lots of new features that people will find useful and truly advances the OS to the next level, but it will only be available on the higher end, powerful devices that have the hardware necessary to run it (Android 2.1 and 2.2 will serve as the OS of choice for lower end and ultraportable devices that do not have a lot of hardware and battery power).
That wasn’t a planned move by Google and the Open Handset Alliance (which owns the OS), but rather a side effect of the increased hardware requirements of the new Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Most people will be happy with slower smart phones, and Android 2.2 is the perfect choice for them – it requires very few resources and has all the features one might need.
The hardware requirements for the new Gingerbread are pretty high, compared to the older Android versions. The new OS needs 512 MB RAM, a 1 GHz CPU and a 3.5 inch display to run at optimal speeds and accommodate the higher resolution and improved multi touch capabilities. As you may have thought, this OS could be the perfect choice for a high end smartphone or a tablet PC that can rival the iPad.
Despite those requirements, a couple of developers have actually installed and ran Android 3.0 on a Motorola Droid, and while it was slow, it was pretty usable. But of course, not everyone has the skills to do that, and most people will have to stick with the decisions that the manufacturers make.
The high hardware requirements are not without good reasons though. Android 2.3 brings a lot of amazing new features and improvements over the previous versions to the table. The OS now supports screen resolutions of up to 1366×768, which means the newer devices running the OS can have a crystal clear picture, provided the display supports these resolutions. This is great news for manufacturers like Samsung and HTC, who will definitely want their phones to be able to compete with the iPhone 4. If you didn’t know, Android 2.2 and older versions were limited to a resolution of maximum 848×480 (which only the Motorola Droid put to good use).
The user interface has also been completely revamped, and is now more intuitive, more beautiful and more importantly, runs faster and is much less prone to crashes. This is thanks to the UI code being integrated into the core of Android itself, which also means that third party interfaces like the Motoblur and Sense may be a thing of the past (the manufacturers can still choose to use them, though).
These are the two biggest improvements, but there are a lot of other new features and bug fixes. Android 2.3 will be more stable, have an advanced task management system which will control hanged applications and battery life, it will have advanced support for Adobe Flash and WebM, better copy-paste functionalities, better support for video calls and 3D applications (with new OpenGL drivers).
As you can see, the new Gingerbread will be a great addition to the Android family and mobile OS industry in general. I need to mention that the code name and actual version number haven’t actually been confirmed, and we may end up with Android 2.5 Garlic for all we know . The release is set for late October, 2010, and that’s when we’ll know all the details but it’s believed that the Android 2.3 release date will be in time for this year’s autumn/winter smartphone collection. Until then, let’s hope that the new OS will live up to the expectations and even exceed them!