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December 6, 2010

Gingerbread, an Evolutionary Update to Android

Google announced Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), a version that fixes many flaws and adds a lot of APIs for developers. The reference device for Android Gingerbread is Nexus S, a Samsung Galaxy S phone with a few extra features and a stock Android interface. "After December 16, Nexus S can be purchased (unlocked or with a T-Mobile service plan) online and in-store from all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores in the U.S. and after December 20 at Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy retailers in the U.K.," informs Google. Nexus S will be the first phone that will run Android Gingerbread and it will soon be followed by Nexus One.


Gingerbread fixes two of the most important flaws in the previous Android versions: it finally adds a soft keyboard that supports multitouch and it's optimized for faster text input, while also implementing system-wide copy-paste that actually works. Google borrowed iPhone's copy-paste implementation, which was also available in HTC Sense.


Google tweaked the user interface, but the changes are subtle. "The user interface is refined in many ways across the system, making it easier to learn, faster to use, and more power-efficient. A simplified visual theme of colors against black brings vividness and contrast to the notification bar, menus, and other parts of the UI," explains Google.

Android 2.3 adds support for VoIP calls to SIP accounts, WebM videos and near-field communication (NFC) tags. Applications can now access the front-facing camera and the gyroscope. There's also a download management application that lists all the files downloaded from the browser, the email client and any other app that uses the API.

Compared to Froyo, Gingerbread may seem underwhelming, but that's probably because most of the apps that come with Gingerbread can already be downloaded from the Android Market and Honeycomb, the next Android release, is coming soon.

17 comments:

  1. I think it should be "a Revolutionary Update".
    I can't hold my breath to know that the NFC and Gyroscope system is now on Android, Nexus S! Just too bad it's all Samsung. Don't forget Galaxy Tab!

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  2. I am hoping Google releases Google Music tomorrow since it would be a very Chrome-centric application.

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  3. I would be SO excited about this save for one significant omission:

    There's no card slot!

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  4. (In the Nexus S, the only phone with Gingerbread.)

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  5. It seems the biggest changes are in the API. Some amazing things for game developers, and for more responsive UI. And some great things for developer to use to help with their own apps performance.

    Other than the API, the new garbage collector will prevent the interface hiccups, and the app battery watchdog will stop any app that is sucking the CPU or keeping the phone awake when it shouldn't. Preventing bad apps from draining your battery.

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  6. The Audio API opens up for things like Replaygain! At long last..

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  7. What about proxy? Did they finally include proxy settings in Android 2.3?

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  8. Does it provide native camera access now?

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  9. From what I have read to date it seems like Wifi proxy support again has been ignored. As a corporate user I am perplexed as to why Google continues to flip the bird to the corporate user by not adding this basic feature to the OS. I hate to say it but I am going to have to seriously think about dumping this device and switch to and iPhone. New features are nice to have but why add new features when you don't have the basic features in place already. Would you spend money on new hardwood for your house if you only had half of the roof intact?

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  10. @dude above:

    >thinking about dumping this device and switch to and iPhone
    >why add new features when you don't have the basic features in place already

    REALLY?

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  11. Where is nexus one's Android 2.3? I have waiting for a long time...

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  12. The lack of HTTP Proxy support associated with your wireless settings is a MAJOR PITA

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  13. At least HTC Desire S with Android 2.3.3 adds proxy management feature for WiFi. It IS a revolutionary update!

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  14. You can give proxy setting also static ip, gateway, DNS etc. You need to go to Settings -> Wireless and Network -> Wi-Fi Settings -> press menu button and goto Advanced. There you can find all these settings.

    note I am giving you these settings wrt Galaxy S2 having the same OS 2.3.3

    Regards,
    Saif ul Islam

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  15. What about HTC Wildfire S??Thats also an Androind 2.3 is suppose. How do I set proxy for it??

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  16. Sahil,

    That is incorrect. You can set a static IP, default gateway, subnet mask and 2 DNS servers, but there is no way to configure a proxy server.

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  17. Sahil,

    Thanks! I have a Samsung Galaxy S II running Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, and I find the settings for Proxy server and port number exactly where you reported. As you wrote:
    "You can give proxy setting also static ip, gateway, DNS etc. You need to go to Settings -> Wireless and Network -> Wi-Fi Settings -> press menu button and goto Advanced. There you can find all these settings."

    I had to completely power off and reboot the Galaxy 2 II after setting the Proxy server FQDN and port number in order for the settings to take effect.

    One caveat when accessing the internet from a WiFi connection inside a corporate IP network through an outbound Proxy server: Don't try to check for Software updates for your Galaxy 2 II phone! The Proxy server probably will not allow access to the service provider's (e.g. AT&T's) Android phone software update server. This results in a very long timeout, and then a false message is displayed that there is an update for your phone, but the software update server is too busy to respond. It also leaves a grayed-out "Continue update" item in the list when you go back into "Software update".

    If you are behind a Proxy server, and if you want to check for software updates for your Android phone, it's safest to disable the phone's WiFi connection and use your mobile data service while you are checking for software updates.

    Regards,
    Douglas Zork

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