While many users are still using Android 1.5 Cupcake, 1.6 Donut and 2.1 Eclair with only a few migrated tothe latest Android 2.2 Froyo, Google is busy in the Candy Factory with Android 3.0 Gingerbread.
Google is set to not only update the Android operating system with this next release, but some of the underlying features of Android too.
One of the current drawbacks of Android at the moment is the lack of Standard with the Android Market vs the Apple App Store. This is set to change however with an upgrade to the Android Market whereby users will be able to access the Android Market on computer via the Android Market Website. This will allow users to log in to the market on their PC and select Apps which they would like which would then be pushed to the phone and downloaded. The Android Market will also include a new section dedicated to Music, although it will be left to be seen if South African users will be able to access the music content which will likely be need to be pruchased.
Another major improvement will be with the default web browser, which will have a larger focus on using the Android device to consume media and not simply to browse the web. As such, the new browser will have direct access to certain hardware capabilities rather than requiring an SDK as well as HTML 5 capabilities and support for the new WebM media format. With these improvements, new websites will be able to do more than they ever could before such as the ability to access the camera directly to upload photos without the need for a separate camera app, as well as being able to take advantage of the phone’s accelerometers, GPS and other hardware.
With the launch of Android 3.0 Gingerbread, Google will most likely also be specifying a recommended minimum spec list due to the hardware intensive nature of Android, such as the ability for true multi-tasking. Some speculated minimum specs will be a 1Ghz Processor and 512MB Ram, although Google will not be able to enforce these specifications as Android is Opensource.
Another major issue present in Android based phones is the separation of the User Interface (UI) between the various manufacturers such as Samsung’s Touchwiz UI or HTC’s Sense UI. As such, Google will most likely try to enforce stricter control over the UI by creating a more unified UI on the Android Operating System, although some manufacturers such as HTC say they will still use some form of UI to differentiate themselves to their competitors. It would be great if Google would create a UI that is more user friendly than it’s current UI while unifying the UI accross manufacturers as this would pave the way for future updates to be done quicker and more rapidly for the various phones.
Some other, more exciting, improvements to Android 3.0 are in development, such as an additional Android Market area for high end games that will be graphically on par to the PSP and PSX. Sony Ericsson is set to be the first manufacturer that will take advantage of this by creating a phone designed specifically for gaming. It is, however, expected that other manufacturers will also get access to this new games section on the Google Market provided their phones meet the necessary minimum specifications for such games.
Google Android 3.0 Gingerbread is set to cause a major stir the mobile handset area and one can most likely rest assured that developers out there will ensure that many phones will have access to the Android 3.0 platform, regardless if they are officially supported by the manufacturer or not and regardless of the specifications of the phone.