After a long wait the latest Android OS is now available, Android 2.3 – AKA Gingerbread was released today on the new Nexus S with a variety of new features that have taken Android a further evolutionary step forward.
The updated OS has made a fair few changes to the interface, improvements that will impact on mobile gaming and the inclusion of two-way video calling for all. We’ve detailed the major changes below; if you are short on time feel free to watch the video at the end of the article.
[singlepic id=62 w=160 h=120 float=right]Android 2.3 now has a multi-touch keyboard so users can now quickly enter symbols that require combinations, there is also a marked improvement to the text selection workflow, in Android 2.2 users have to touch and hold a word to select the text, 2.3 is a lot quicker with just a single tap/touch needed.
Corrections to mistakes have also been overhauled with users able to quickly switch to voice to make a change.
Gaming and developers
[singlepic id=60 w=160 h=120 float=left]Android 2.3 now allows developers to directly get their creative mitts on the Open GLS and audio as well as make full use of the built in gyroscope. What does this mean for phone owners? Well in simple terms they will experience better games, with fluid graphics and faster moving games.
Android Gingerbread also brings VoIP to developers with the added function that will allow them to develop two-way video calls over the internet, expect apps to land soon.
One notable feature that Android users have been requesting for some time is that Gingerbread users can now record video using the front facing camera; on all other versions you can only use the rear, high resolution camera.
WebM video compression is now also supported making it possible to play YouTube videos straight in the Android Browser.
Near Field Communication
[singlepic id=61 w=320 h=240 float=right]At the Web 2.0 conference Eric Schmidt talked about Near Field Communication (NFC). The technology uses a built in scanner application that can read NFC tags. These tags can be attributed to things like websites, so when read would navigate straight to the URL. It will also be used as a payment solution, Google envisage the mobile phone will eventually replace the humble credit card and QR codes and NFC are the first step.
So now we have Android Gingerbread on the Nexus S, when we will see it rolled out on other handsets remains to be seen.