The current version of Android (2.2 Froyo) that is running on Samsung Galaxy Tab is not fully optimised for tablets as Google stated a few weeks ago so we eagerly waited for the next version of the android os to appear on the market and here it is: Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Even though is the next Android OS, I don’t think that it deserves the title of “Android OS version for tablets” just yet. We also know that the Google team is working hard on the Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) which will be truly designed for tablets such as Galaxy Tab but we will have to wait quite a while…
Now that we all know that Google has officially announced Gingerbread, let’s take a look on what will Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) bring new to Samsung Galaxy Tab:
Extra Large Screen Support
According to an updated documentation for Supporting Multiple Screens, Android 2.3 will offer support for larger and bigger screens up to 10″.
Devices with extra large screens are tablet-sized or larger, so you should pay close attention to how usable your application is on such screens. You might want to design new layouts specifically for extra large screens, to address usability aspects such as the location and size of buttons in your UI. To test your application on an extra large screen, create an AVD targeted to Android 2.3 with a high resolution, such as 1280 x 800, and the default density of 160dpi. This AVD will use any resources you’ve provided with the xlarge resouce qualifier.
The supported resolutions have not been revealed but is likely that 1280×800 and 1024×600 will benefit from this new update. Now we can say that this Android version is more “tablet ready” and thanks to the close partnership between Google and Samsung, this will make the Galaxy Tab the first tablet to support Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
Google didn’t redesign the whole UI but they have made a few changes and refinements for simplicity and speed giving the whole thing a cleaner look. Black is the new Gingerbread color and delivers a nice feel and contrast to the notification bar, menus and settings making it easier to control the features of the tablet.
The new Keyboard that it’s delivered by Gingerbread has been redesigned and optimised for faster text input and editing. The keys have been reshaped and repositioned, making them easier to see and press, and the dictionary suggestion has been improved being displayed in a larger and more vivid style. The capability of correcting entered words from suggestions found in the dictionary has been added and the user can choose from the options displayed by the device and save the selection. Also a new multitouch key-chording is present which allows the user to quickly enter symbols by pressing Shift+<letter> and ?123+<symbol>, without having to manually switch between modes.
One touch word selection and copy/paste has also been introduced where the user can quickly select a word by press-hold and after adjust the selection as needed by dragging the bounding arrows to new positions.
Better Power Management & Apps Control
Android 2.3 will help managing better the applications that are CPU consuming or those which stay awake for too long in the background. This can be accomplished by closing them if appropriate in order to deliver better performance and maximum battery life. The user will also be able to monitor better the power consuming components and running apps, with information regarding the usage and the power consumed by each component and application.
A shortcut to Manage Application will appear in Options Menu in the Home Screen and Launcher in order to make it easier for the user to check and manage application activity.
A new interesting feature supported by the stock OS will be Internet Calling! Users who have SIP accounts will be able to make voice calls over the internet by adding an internet calling number (a SIP address) to any Contact and call using Quick Contact or Dialer. Is important to note the fact that support for platform’s SIP and internet calling features on devices is determined by manufactures & carriers so hopefully we will get “all inclusive” on Samsung Galaxy Tab.
One more important point for those interested in using multiple cameras on the device, the new Android OS will support access to multiple cameras, including a front-facing camera, if available! That’s good news if you had problems accessing one or both cameras on your device.
So these are the main attraction points of the upcoming Android 2.3 Gingerbread. As we announced a few days ago, this version of Android will arrive on Samsung Galaxy Tab sometime in Q1 of 2011. In fact, we expect it to be available on Galaxy Tab even sooner thanks to developers who will try to port it as soon as the official roms/firmwares are out.
UPDATE : The firmware is already out and ready to download, being released in Italy a few days ago. Visit our Galaxy Tab Forum for more information and for a video tutorial on how to add it on your tabs. Enjoy.