Google today officially introduced the latest version of the Android platform, Gingerbread, and unveiled the next Android device from the Nexus line of mobile products - Nexus S.
And for developers, the Gingerbread SDK/NDK
is now available as well.
Nexus S is the lead device for the Gingerbread/Android 2.3 release; it's the first Android device to ship with the new version of the Android platform. Google co-developed this product with Samsung. As part of the Nexus brand, Nexus S delivers what Google calls a "pure Google" experience: unlocked, unfiltered access to the best Google mobile services and the latest Android releases and updates.
Nexus S is the first smartphone to feature a 4" Contour Display designed to fit comfortably in the palm of a hand. It also features a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, front and rear facing cameras, 16GB of internal memory, and NFC (near field communication) hardware that lets users read information from NFC tags. NFC is a fast, short-range wireless technology that can be embedded in all kinds of everyday objects like movie posters, stickers and t-shirts.
Gingerbread is the fastest version of Android yet, and it delivers a number of improvements, such as user interface refinements, NFC support, a new keyboard and text selection tool, Internet (VoIP/SIP) calling, improved copy/paste functionality and gyroscope sensor support.
After December 16, Nexus S can be purchased (unlocked or with a T-Mobile service plan) online and in-store from all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores in the U.S. and after December 20 at Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy retailers in the U.K. Unlocked Nexus S phones that can be linked to any telecom network simply by inserting SIM cards will be priced at 529 dollars while people opting for two-year service contracts with T-Mobile will get the gadgets for 199 dollars.
Google will be open-sourcing Gingerbread in the coming weeks and look forward to new contributions from the Android ecosystem in the months ahead.
Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) highlights
Some of the highlights of the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) include:
- Enhancements for game development: To improve overall responsiveness, Google has added a new concurrent garbage collector and optimized the platform?s overall event handling. Google has also given developers native access to more parts of the system by exposing a broad set of native APIs. From native code, applications can now access input and sensor events, EGL/OpenGL ES, OpenSL ES, and assets, as well a new framework for managing lifecycle and windows. For precise motion processing, developers can use several new sensor types, including gyroscope.
- Rich multimedia: To provide a great multimedia environment for games and other applications, Google has added support for the new video formats VP8 and WebM, as well as support for AAC and AMR-wideband encoding. The platform also provides new audio effects such as reverb, equalization, headphone virtualization, and bass boost.
- New forms of communication: The platform now includes support for front-facing camera, SIP/VOIP, and Near Field Communications (NFC), to let developers include new capabilities in their applications.
Alongside the new platform, Google is releasing updates to the SDK Tools (r8), NDK, and ADT Plugin for Eclipse (8.0.0). New features include:
- Simplified debug builds: Developers can easily generate debug packages without having to manually configure the application?s manifest, making workflow more efficient.
- Integrated ProGuard support: ProGuard is now packaged with the SDK Tools. Developers can now obfuscate their code as an integrated part of a release build.
- HierarchyViewer improvements: The HierarchyViewer tool includes an updated UI and is now accessible directly from the ADT Plugin.
- Preview of new UI Builder: An early release of a new visual layout editor lets developers create layouts in ADT by dragging and dropping UI elements from contextual menus. It?s a work in progress and we intend to iterate quickly on it.