Gingerbread ROMs Available for Testing on Many Android Phones

If our screenshot tourwasn’t enough to satiate your Gingerbread lust, a bunch of Android developers have already started porting the Android 2.3 SDK to various Android devices, so rooted users can play around with it now and see what’s new.

These ROMs won’t get you by on day-to-day use, since they’re just the SDK—certain basic phone functions won’t work on your device when you flash these ROMs. That said, if you just make a backup of your phone before flashing (which you do regularly anyway, right?), you can check out what Gingerbread will actually look and run like on your specific device, which is pretty neat—and then when you’re done just restore to your more functional backup. And, of course, if you like what you see, the new Gingerbread keyboard andlauncher are already available for daily use on your 2.2 phone.

The Gingerbread SDK ROMs are free downloads for various rooted Android devices, including the Droid Eris, Hero, Evo, Incredible, and Sapphire. More ROMs are always being added, so keep an eye on the page below for your own device.


Android 3.0 aka 'Honeycomb' Makes a Surprise Appearance on Prototype Motorola Tablet

Google is showing off an early build of their Android 3.0 software, which appears to be heavily optimized for tablets (including the Motorola prototype it’s running on) and has been given a cloudy release window of “next year.”According to Engadget, Android head Andy Rubin unveiled this all during his talk at All Things D’s Dive Into Mobile conference, where he demoed the new software and hardware. The desktop appears to be redesigned with the extra screen space in mind, along with the new app grid and updated Gmail app (which looks like the iPad-optimized version of Gmail.

Android 3.0 aka 'Honeycomb' Makes a Surprise Appearance on Prototype Motorola Tablet

Apparently the tablet Honeycomb is running on features no buttons, which would make sense, since there appear to be on-screen elements to launch search and apps in the image above. Rubins also mentioned that the tablet will be video chat-capable, in addition to packing an NVIDIA processor and a “dual core 3D processor.”

TechCrunch also mentions that you’ll be able to “fragment” apps, and widgetize them on the desktop, which could be a potentially interesting feature.

Update: check out video of the Android tablet in action, courtesy of All Things D

An Update to Android Market Brings a Brand New Android Market

In its latest update, Android Market is pretty much starting over. All of the gazillion apps are still there but the interface will look different and the experience will almost be brand new.

On the home screen of the Android Market, a new carousel feature let’s users flip through featured apps in a Cover Flow-like style. Google has also added new categories for Live Wallpapers and Widgets and promises more categories for popular apps in the future, too. Once you get to an app’s page, you’ll no longer see the old tabbed interface but rather a single, “streamlined” page. There’s also a heavier use of green, if you hadn’t noticed that.

Google will also change the refund time of apps from 24 hours to 15 minutes, so no more gaming the system. They’re also upping the maximum download file to 50MB in hopes of landing richer games and offering better support for different screen resolutions and such.

These tweaks and changes all add up to one of the biggest updates to the Android Market since paid apps were introduced. Google says that this brand new Android Market will be rolling out to Android 1.6+ users in the next couple of weeks. [Android Developers Blog]

Android 2.3 Gingerbread Review: Better Than Fruitcake

It’s hard to believe this is what Android looked like two years ago. It’s a testament to how far it’s come that Android 2.3 Gingerbread is focused on making it feel good more than anything else.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread Review: Better Than Fruitcake

Version: Android 2.3
Phones: Nexus S, for now
When you can get it: Over the next couple months
Price: Free update

Android has evolved more aggressively, more rapidly than any other mobile platform. But now it’s reached a point of maturity, and you can see that in Gingerbread: The newness in Android 2.3 is all about refinement. Not new features or functions or just stuff. It’s Android where Google’s slowed down and taken the time to think about how it looks and feels and responds.

The irony, of course, is that most of the careful design work that’s gone into Android 2.3 won’t ever be seen by a large portion of Android users. The definitive Android design won’t be experienced by people who own phones covered in custom software. There’s only a handful of Android phones in the US where you’ll be able to get the real Android experience—Nexus One, T-Mobile G2 and the Nexus S—even though it’s unquestionably better than anything phone makers are conjuring up themselves these days.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread Review: Better Than Fruitcake

Android 2.3 Gingerbread Review: Better Than Fruitcake

The core Android experience is largely unchanged from Android 2.2: Everything works just about the same. What’s different? It’s smoother, faster, and for the first time, it feels like one person actually designed the Android interface. There are details! The orange glow when you hit the end of a list. The old boob-tube-style shutoff whenever the screen turns off. They’re little things, but they add up to a phone that just feels better—even when the occasional rough spot still pops up in Android (and they do). And half the battle with an interface is making it feel great. (This is why, for all its flaws, people dig Windows Phone 7.) The speed improvements over 2.2, while subtle, make a difference. It’s the first time Android’s really approached iPhone 4-level responsiveness. On the other hand, it’s somewhat unreal it’s taken over two years to have the finer things in smartphone life on Android.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread Review: Better Than Fruitcake

Speed, speed, speed. Still loving the new hyperflat, orange-and-green-and-black interface after several days—it makes me think of Tron. Things like the Downloads app to collect everything I’ve downloaded. The new keyboard doesn’t make me want to drill my fingers through the glass anymore. Android is still the most connected-feeling mobile OS around, by leaps and bounds. Major components—like Gmail and Maps—are broken up so they can be updated individually instead of having to wait for the next major OS push.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread Review: Better Than Fruitcake
Still a little too confusing and PC-like for some people, even if it does look spiffier. The Market’s not much better to dig through. No native video chat! Crazy! Especially considering that Google’s got Google Talk and that the new definitive Android device has a front-facing camera. Android media experience is still pretty weak compared to the iPhone, from getting music on there (sorry, drag and drop is not media management) to the better-but-still-mediocre music player (just because I can download WinAmp doesn’t excuse Android’s native app’s suckage).

Android 2.3 Gingerbread Review: Better Than Fruitcake

Android 2.3 Gingerbread Review: Better Than Fruitcake

Android 2.3 is almost exactly where Android needs to be to take the next step: The fundamentals, the vision, the polish (mostly) are there, finally. Now it’s time for all of the amazing things Google’s promised next.

No Lock Turns Off Android's Slide-to-Unlock Gesture

Android only: If you’re entirely confident in your pockets, your purse, or your butt being unable to accidentally dial people or launch loud apps accidentally, go ahead and grab No Lock. The Android app simply disable’s Android’s slider-based lock screen.

And that’s the only thing it does, really, replacing the usual slide gesture with a simple button to tap. As Download Squad points out, the very nifty Taskerapp can disable the lock screen, and even do so under just certain times or conditions (among many other things), but this app requires much less work.

No Lock Turns Off Android's Slide-to-Unlock GestureIt’s a free download for Android phones, available in the Market, and you can scan the QR code at left to grab it.

No Lock [AppBrain via Download Squad]

Facebook Update for Android Released, Includes Chat Integration and Push Notifications

Android: The Facebook app for Android has slowly been improving from its formerly awful state, but today it got the update many of you have been waiting for, adding a Chat interface as well as push notifications to the app.

Previously, Facebook chat was only available through apps like previously mentioned Trillian for Android, but the official solution works quite well. The chat interface is remarkably good on first look—you have your usual buddy list, with open chats at the top for quick access. The app will also send push notifications to your phone every time you receive a new chat, so even if you’re not in the app at the time you can carry on a conversation. The app also includes some bugfixes and the addition of push notifications for other interactions as well, so you no longer have to open up the app to get notifications for messages, comments, and wall posts. It’s been a long time coming, but we’re happy to see that it’s finally on par with the iOS app in terms of features.

Facebook for Android is a free download.

[via Droid-Life]

Send Android Photos Straight to Dropbox

Posted: December 15, 2010 in Tips

While you can share and take photos from the Dropbox app on both iOS and Android, reader Java-Princess shows us that on Android, all you need to do is start up the Dropbox app and hit your phone’s camera button.

If you start the Dropbox app on an Android phone before using the camera, your pics save to your Dropbox folder and from there automatically sync to your PC or Mac, no thinking necessary.

It isn’t anything revolutionary that you couldn’t to before, but it is much faster than the more well-known method (which involves going into Dropbox, hit the menu button, pressing “New”, and choosing Picture from the menu). Instead, you can just open up the Dropbox app, hit the camera button on your phone, and snap away. Any pictures you take will automatically be saved to your Dropbox folder, which is certainly a heck of a lot faster than transferring them to your PC yourself.