Android OS 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ Gets Color Fixes, Lots More than Just NFC

‘Gingerbread’ might not be the ‘Honeycomb’ Android update that we all want but don’t think for a minute that it’s just a minor patch to hold everyone over until Android 3.0 comes out. One of the most exciting features new to Android coming in 2.3 Gingerbread is NFC or near field communication technology support for mobile payment. Don’t get me wrong though, NFC is just the icing on this Gingerbread update cake.

Android Gingerbread will bring improved support for tablet devices with it. Android was created with smart phones in mind but because of its massive popularity, manufacturers want to see how well it can compete against Apple’s iPad. Unfortunately for Google right now, Android 2.2 ‘Froyo’ isn’t really optimized for devices with very large screens (tablet PCs). Google has planned for its Chrome OS to become the operating system of choice for tablets and net books. The problem is though that what people want is Android, not an untested operating system that further fragments the mobile market. The iPad runs iOS and the same iOS apps as the iPhone and iPod touch so why not the same on Android?

Numerous but small user interface (UI) and bug fixes are everywhere in Gingerbread. Even colors in Gingerbread are getting improved. How? All bitmap images are now loaded in 32 bits (more bits means more colors possible and more realistic looking pictures) along with all windows themselves. This should improve the overall photo viewing experience and take care of the ‘banding’ issue in pictures with gradients and similar, natural lighting effects.

The Samsung Nexus S is expected to be announced within a week along with Android Gingerbread. Unsurprisingly, Samsung has been rumored to be testing a new version of its TouchWiz UI on the device. What’s new with TouchWiz on Samsung? A better virtual keyboard, improved camera support and updated icons. Not that spectacular but it’s good to know that Samsung is working hard to compete. That just means better phones for all of us down the road.

With Android 3.0 Honeycomb expected to come out in early 2011, Gingerbread might have its thunder stolen pretty quickly. However it remains to be seen if Gingerbread will be Google’s ‘smart phone OS’ and Honeycomb the ‘tablet OS’. Whatever path Google decides to take, expect Android to start competing more directly against iOS and BlackBerry in the near future.

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