Android 2.3 Gingerbread: An In-depth Look

Android 2.3 Gingerbread is amongst the hottest topics in the android world right now. Whether it is curiosity about receiving the OTA upgrade or if it is all it is cracked up to be, the forums are flooded with Gingerbread discussion. Among the fabled upgrades are speed and performance enhancements, a refreshed UI, new text selection, and more.

First, under the spot light is speed. Gingerbread is faster then its predecessors. Along with the speed comes a smoother experience with almost every interaction with the phone including, but not limited to, menus, screen swipes, and scrolling. Although it is impossible to dictate just how much faster Gingerbread is then Froyo with a quantity, the differences are definitely noticeable.

Second, the refreshed UI. The user interface is not a complete overhaul, but has some noticeable changes. First the color scheme has changed to a black, orange, and green with the menus being set against a all black background instead of trimmed in white. The biggest change is the functionality of the home screen menu. Accessing the menu presents you with an option to manage apps, and allows you to go directly to the app manager. Also among the UI changes is the new text selection and copy/paste tool. Simply tapping on the text box brings up the selection tool that you drag to any position in the text to make the modifications. A long press will bring up two selection tools that allow you to drag over what you wish to copy, cut, or paste. Along for the ride is the new Microbes wallpaper that ships by default with Gingerbread. This adds a little human interaction with live wallpapers.

Third, is the introduction of Near Field Communications (NFC) and the downloads app. The NFC chip inside the phone allows the phone to interact with NFC stickers , which contains information that the phone will automatically process. The downloads app allows you to sort through all the downloaded content on your Android device.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread, while not a complete overhaul, will definitely hold its own until the release of Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Look for the OTA update for your phone in hopefully the near future.

[via intomobile]

Nexus S kernel released via Android’s Open Source Project

Get excited Android enthusiasts! They day you all have been waiting for is here. Samsung’s Nexus S is scheduled to be sold by Best Buy in two days, but today presents a special treat and answers a question as old as the Android Community itself. Will we see a root for it? Headline news is that two days before its release the Nexus S Linux kernel source is released to the public using Android’s Open Source Project. The early release allows developers a head start in development; whether it is for custom ROMs, hacks, or to update applications. The release can be found at Android’s Open Source Project.

On Google’s repository, developers have different options. They can clone one tree from the kernel by installing and using git or the entire platform by installing and running repo. If you are unfamiliar with the purpose behind repo and git, but have a desire to dig deeper into the power of Android, you can find out more information here. If you desire an in-depth tutorial about how to access this powerful release, check out the git tutorial here. Now that the kernel is released it is only a matter of time before the major developers of the Android community release their modified versions for the pleasure and business of Android enthusiasts world-wide. Happy developing!

[via Twitter]

Strict Mode in Android 2.3 Gingerbread helps developers make better, leaner apps

In the slew of new things to be included in Android 2.3 Gingerbread, here’s one that the devs will love. It’s a new feature called “StrictMode”, and is designed to monitor an app as it works and watch for calls, commands, or other app functions that could end up slowing things down on your device. According to the Android Developers Blog, it is made to:

  • detect disk writes
  • detect disk reads
  • detect network usage
  • on a violation: log
  • on a violation: crash
  • on a violation: dropbox
  • on a violation: show an annoying dialog

So what does this mean, specifically? It means that developers will now be able to find out what causes slowdowns and bottlenecks in their apps that would ultimately cause an app to crash or force close. This means a better app experience, and more stable apps in general for the end user. Looks like Google is all about the apps, and they plan to stay that way. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments!

[via android-developers]

Zombie art found in Gingerbread SDK – What this means for us

zombie gingerbread platlogo

Deep within the SDK of our new favorite OS, Android 2.3, is something most didn’t expect to see…Zombies! Yes, Zombies!

We see them everywhere, aimlessly walking about, mumbling brief sentence fragments to the likes of “brains…” and “uuuuughghghghghghg….” So one might ask, “Why are there Zombies in my Gingerbread?” One may say that Zombies have a special aquired taste for Gingerbread, I mean, it tastes nice, and gives a warm feeling, particularily with a cup of Spiced Rum and EggNog. Maybe this is that warm feeling long forgotten by our Zombie friends, and as such, is missed dearly. We could only speculate.

So if you’re looking for some conversation at the water cooler on your choice of wallpaper, or simply have a special place in your heart for Zombies, as does an unamed developer at Google, get the Android 2.3 SDK and navigate to platforms/android-9/data/res/drawable-nodpi/platlogo.jpg to show it off at your next Walking Dead LARP party.

[Thanks to our Tipsters!]

Rumor: Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” SDK being released November 11?

Well, it’s that time of the month again. A little under a month ago, we brought you a rumor that the Gingerbread SDK was dropping around the middle of October. Well, IntoMobile is jumping into the fray with a rumor that the Android 2.3 SDK is actually going to be released on November 11th.

It seems that Android Maps UI change we showed you a couple of days ago is adding some fuel to this fire, along with the rumors of the upcoming Nexus Two by Samsung and the Adobe Flash Player update message we told you about just today..

However, with that all being said, I must remind you that this in fact just a rumor, and that it needs to be treated as such. November 11th is just a few days away, though, so I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.

[via IntoMobile]

Google providing Android SDK for developers to bring interstitial ads to your phone

Due to popular demand from advertisers and publishers, Google has announced that they are introducing interactive video and interstitial (ads displayed before or after content is viewed) ad units on the Android platform.

Google states that this will give advertisers the chance to reach a much larger audience, and for publishers to maximize their earning potential. From the post on the Google Mobile Ads blog:

“AdMob interstitial ads are reserved for developers of the most popular and engaging iOS and Android apps.  These high value ad units can be placed at app-open or in-app and provide an additional option for premium publishers to effectively monetize their user base.”

Google has cited CBS Mobile as an early adopter of Android that is excited about these new ads, and is expecting them to be very popular among publishers and advertisers.

[via Google Mobile Ad Blog]

Android developers: improve performance using Traceview

The Android Developers Blog has a nice breakdown on a tool called Traceview that Android developers can use to improve performance on their applications.   I could go into detail but Tim Bray does a good job on the blog of breaking it down. He explains how to use the logged data to find out what what part of your app is taking up the most time, then drilling down to find the likely culprits of code causing any mischief.

I’m sure many of you developers may already know about this tool, but just in case, it’s good to spread the word.  Nobody wants buggy, laggy apps bogging down their Android device.  Hardware can only go so far and even then, all it takes is one bad app to eat up your battery or crash your phone.

[via Android Developers Blog]

HTC Releases Froyo Code For the EVO 4G and Droid Incredible

As with everything Android eventually the source code makes its way to us. Again this is the case with the EVO 4G and Droid Incredible for the Froyo updates. With this release we can expect to see custom ROM’s based on the new updates. I find it kind of amusing that the source code for the Incredible is more readily available then the device itself. :) Anyway coders, on your mark, get set, GO!!!!!

[via engadget]

Google Becoming More Open with Access in the Development Process

In a move to be more open with developers, Google is taking steps to provide once closed contributed source code to the public. Before the policy change any publicly contributed source code went into the private tree for only Google engineers’ eyes. Now with the new change publicly contributed source code goes into the public tree for all developers and manufacturers to see when using the NDK (Native Development Kit). Now this does not mean that everything is available as Google needs to contain the secrets to their success from other competitors.

The reason for this change is they want to prevent disasters from happening by having botched released software from manufacturers. It will bridge the gap and allow application developers to stay on top of things making sure their software will work for their intended audiences on the Android platform. Google made a statement on the issue by saying “this has nearly happened before when one unnamed OEM wanted to start shipping pre-release the Android 1.5 – codenamed Cupcake – on its phones.”

This makes good news for us because we depend on the applications we use on our phones to work when needed. We don’t want them broken with every major update. As a developer or end user what do you think of these new changes? Do you think it is a good step in the right direction for Google?

[via The Register]