The long-awaited successor to Android 2.2 (Froyo) was released just about a month ago and first appeared on the Nexus S. Codenamed Gingerbread, Android 2.3 brought a modest upgrade to the Android platform, and while it didn't really deliver the "wow" factor, it did move Android in the right direction.
Cut to a few weeks after the release of Gingerbread and we saw Google's Andy Rubin show off a prototype tablet running Honeycomb, which most of us assumed would be Android 3.0.
But things just got a little more interesting because Sony Ericsson let the cat out of the bag that the next version of Android may in fact be 2.4. And that might explain all the "Honeycomb is Android 2.4" rumors we were hearing last week.
The good folks over at Tweakers.net got their hands on a prototype Sony Ericsson Xperia that clearly shows Android 2.4 as the OS. Whether this was a misstep on Sony's part isn't known, but the Android blogosphere is lit up with rumors and speculation about the incremental upgrade and what version number Honeycomb will actually wear.
Right now it looks as though 2.4 is adding features to Android that were meant to be included in 2.3.
According to the Tweakers.net crew who got a hands on with the device, the new build is bringing these enhancements to 2.3:
- Slight speed boost. Gingerbread is pretty fast, but even a minimal boost in performance is a good thing.
- Enhanced animations. The guys at Tweakers say that there are new animations that resemble Mac OSX's Genie effect when deleting shortcuts off the home screen.
- Better call noise reduction. This feature will benefit devices that don't employ dual microphones that help to reduce noise when making phone calls.
- Video chat. While this feature was highlighted in Honeycomb, it wasn't fully implemented in Gingerbread, but it looks like that's about to change once this update officially drops.
One of the main features that people wanted to see in Gingerbread was an overhaul to the UI, but aside from a new keyboard, a new notification bar and a slightly different launcher, it looked nearly identical to Froyo. There's no word yet as to whether Android 2.4 will bring any dramatic changes to the interface, but with the OS moving in the tablet direction, one can hope that there will be some tweaks to the UI.
If this is indeed true (we have to stress that there's been nothing official from Google as of this writing) then 2.4 should be viewed much like the update from 2.0 to 2.1. It will likely still be called Gingerbread, but with a few new added bells and whistles. It looks as if Google is shaping Gingerbread to be the phone OS while Honeycomb will be strictly for tablets.