Google didn’t hold a special event for the announcement of Gingerbread, perhaps because the Gingerbread update has only been a minor one. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things to get excited about in this new version.
#1 Improved Gaming support
Google is adding support for gyroscopes and barometers, together with their new sensor fusion technology, to make it easy for developers to make games that take advantage of such movement sensors in an easier manner.
They’ve also added changes to the UI framework and made it easier to better track finger motions. They’ve made changes to improve gaming performance as well and added support for overscrolling effects.
#2 New Communication Method
I’ve been waiting for a year for Google to add VOIP to Android by default, ever since they bought the Gizmo5 company, and it finally happened. This is the beginning of the end for Voice plans, and it comes just in time for 4G networks, which should support VOIP Internet calls and video calls much better than 3G can. This will also help accelerate the amount of data we will get with our plans, because Internet calls, and especially video calls, are going to eat up our “minutes” much quicker if we only get a few GB’s of data in our plans.
Another method that will be added to our phone’s communication capabilities will be Near Field Communication (NFC) support. This is already coming with the Samsung Nexus S, and I believe it’s going to catch on very quickly next year. Just think being able to instantly pay for something with your phone or take information faster from the surrounding environment, like finding out more information about a product, and so on.
#3 Improved Video and Audio Support
Gingerbread is getting support for WebM and VP8, which should be vital in the future, as VP8 is the only free and open source quality video codec. Sound is also getting an improvement as Google’s new media framework adds support for bass boost, per-track or global audio effects, equalization, reverb, and headphone virtualization (for simulated 5.1 sound).
#4 Other improvements
Developers will be able to better monitor the performance of their apps, and thus making it easier for them to spot bugs or laggy performance in the app.
Support for extra large screens means that developers can have the same app look one way one smartphones and another, more optimized, way on tablets.
Gingerbread is bringing some interesting updates, but I think Google may have kept the biggest ones from us until Honeycomb is released (perhaps some of them weren’t completely ready anyway). I’m still waiting to see if there will be any market improvements and to what extent.