Archive for the ‘Google News’ Category

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.

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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

Specs
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.

It looks like Google Hong Kong has accidentally published a video showing a crystal clear view of Gingerbread’s user interface—the next version of your Android cellphone’s operating system. It shows some of the incoming aesthetic changes.
The video shows a Google Voice walk through on a cellphone with Gingerbread installed. It doesn’t show changes in built-in apps, but it unveils small changes on system-wide user interface elements. Gradients have been replaced by flat black—transparent black in the case of the home springboard—with gray borders and green neon checks. [Android Police]

Video not available? Download it here.

First Dual-Core Phone Leaks from LG With Android and 1080p Video Camera

Engadget has received a leaked photo of LG’s 4-inch Tegra 2-toting Android “Star” phone, which will join their flagship Optimus line-up with an 8MP camera (1080p video recording) and forward-facing camera. [Engadget via Gizmodo]

Android looks set to grow up, if a hidden Gingerbread screen contained within the updated Google Maps is anything to go by. The UI looks slightly more styled, with the lines separating options gone amongst other small changes.

In the image above, Gingerbread is on the left, and Froyo is on the right. The screen was discovered by a Freenode IRC member Canadiancow, who found it in the Google Maps 4.60 update APK.

While it doesn’t give much more away about Gingerbread, the buttons look crisper and some shading has been added to the menu.

We’re still not too sure just when Gingerbread is expected, but considering Google has already erected their sweet friend outside their Californian HQ, my guess is that it’s not going to be too long. [AndroidPolice via Gizmodo]