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The 9 Most Anticipated Features in Android Gingerbread 2.3


November 22, 2010

Nobody besides Google insiders know when Android Gingerbread 2.3 will drop, but it's supposed to be any day now. On November 12th, @GoogleMobile tweeted, "Our cafes are baking something sweet" with a link to a photo of gingerbread cookies. But what exactly are they cooking up for 2.3? To give Android application developers an idea of what features they will need to support in this new version, here are the top 9 most anticipated features users are hoping to see.

1. Video chat

"Perhaps the biggest addition (that we can confirm so far)," Quentyn Kennemer at Phandroid.com said, "has been support for video chat using the same protocols that powers video chat on the desktop version of Google Talk." Now if Google can only get hardware manufacturers to put a front-facing camera on handsets.

2. Streaming Music from Home Computers

With Gingerbread, rumor has it that users will be able to stream music from their home computers to their Droid devices, according Marin Perez at IntoMobile.com. Details on how this will work are sketchy, but Google bought a company called Simplify Media, and according to Perez, Google "will use this technology to let you stream all of your unprotected music to your Android." Google gave a sneak peak of this feature back in May.

3. Android Market Music Store

For users who don't have terabytes of music at home to stream, the Android Market is expected to offer music for sale with Gingerbread. "An interesting thing," Perez blogged, "is that Google said its market will be for more than just apps, as you'll soon be able to purchase music from it. That's a clear shot across the bow at Apple and its iTunes juggernaut."

 


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4. Google TV

Google owns YouTube. "Lean Back" is a version of YouTube that opens in full-screen mode with continuous play and ads. Speculators predict that Gingerbread will take advantage of YouTube's "Lean Back" functionality for YouTube videos, as well as integrating with the Google TV service to provide a much more television-esque video watching experience.

5. New User Interface

The biggest criticsm of Android is that it's user interface (UI) is clunky. Each version of Android has attempted to tackle these UI problems and Gingerbread is likely to follow that trend. In fact, Gingerbread is expected to have a new UI with cleaner, redesigned icons and more lime green. Rather than having applications appear to be something bolted onto the Android operating system, Phandroid's Kennemer reported that unnamed sources said applications will be more seamlessly integrated into the OS. Kennemer said that the YouTube application will be one of the first to get this new treatment.

6. Voice Over WIFI

If reports are true, Google's also adding session initiation protocol (SIP) support in its Google Voice application to allow users to receive calls to their Google Voice numbers over Wi-Fi and cellular data. "We've heard that the actual updated Voice application might not be ready for Gingerbread's release, but the underlying framework has already been checked in. Unfortunately, it sounds like this'll be a Gingerbread-exclusive feature," writes Kennemer. This could be a cool feature for Android users who don't have a voice plan with a cell phone provider.

7. Improved Copy and Paste

Anyone who owns a Droid can tell you that copy and paste is a little clunky right now. Android 2.3 is reportedly going to make this better, but there have been no details leaked on how Google plans to improve copy and paste.

8. WebM

It's expected that Google's open source WebM video container format will be included in Gingerbread. Google purchased On2 Technologies in early 2010 and with it they got the VP8 open video compression format. In May, the company launched the WebM Project in an effort to solidify VP8 as the HTML5 codec of choice. It makes sense that Android will take advantage of WebM and VP8.

9. New "Screen Off" Animation

No details are yet available about what this means, but Gethin over at Zimbio reported that this is a "confirmed feature" for Gingerbread.

What's known about Android 2.3 is based on rumors and unnamed sources, so you'll have to just wait and see what actually makes it into Gingerbread and what ends up on the cutting room floor.

About the Author

Keith Vance is a software engineer and a journalist. He's been developing web applications professionally since 1997 and he received his journalism degree from the University of Washington in 2008.

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