Google Tweets: Gingerbread Release Imminent
Google is teasing the release of Gingerbread, the next generation of its mobile OS Android, with a tasty-looking picture included in a tweet. Google Mobile just tweeted the following: "Our cafes are baking something sweet," with a photo of Gingerbread cookies in the shape of the Android mascot. There is much speculation about the precise release date, with many industry watchers saying the Internet company will unveil Gingerbread during this week's Web 2.0 Summit. To date, Google has only said Gingerbread will be out before the end of the year. Gingerbread, which may be version 2.3 or 3.0, is the follow-up to Android 2.2, dubbed Froyo, and is slated to include video chat based on Google Talk protocols, Google Voice over Wi-Fi, more uniformly designed icons, slicker looking Google Apps and enhanced gaming functionality. The next-gen mobile OS is expected to support video chat with the same foundation that operates Google Talk for desktop computers, with SIP support in its Google Voice application to allow users to receive calls to their Google Voice numbers over Wi-Fi and cellular data. The current Android 2.2 version, Froyo, marked a significant upgrade that provided many enterprise-friendly features, but Gingerbread may offer more of a focus on multimedia and gaming tools and resources. Prior reports suggested that Gingerbread would include the following: support for WebM video playback, improved copy-and-paste functionality, support for an Android Market music store service, media streaming, a revamped UI, support for larger screens, support for WebP image files and enhanced 3D game support.
Android 2.2 includes more mobile security features, such as support for complex passwords and policies, remote wipe and the ability to remotely lock the device to secure data if the smartphone is lost or stolen. It also includes support for Exchange calendars, Adobe Flash as well as tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality, and, overall, performs much faster. Froyo also allows for application storage on external devices and a more fluid mobile app market experience. Meanwhile, there's already buzz over Honeycomb, which will be the mobile operating system from Google designed specifically for tablets. Today bloggers are citing a tweet by Eldar Murtazin of Mobile-Review.com that says Motorola early next year will roll out the first Android tablet to run on Honeycomb, codenamed Motopad and including a 7-inch screen. For now, Google is only confirming that Gingerbread will "be out by the end of the year," and that Honeycomb "will address the unique aspects of tablet form factors and use cases."
News of the tablet-dedicated Android OS first surfaced in early September. HP Wong, Samsung's chief of product planning, let it slip at the IFA tech conference in Berlin that future tablet PCs from the South Korean manufacturer -- issued after the Galaxy Tab -- would be based on Honeycomb, an Android fork optimized for tablet PCs. Also, LG Electronics declared it would delay its Android tablet, initially slated to run Android 2.2 like the Galaxy Tab, until Honeycomb is available. The news of Honeycomb comes at a time when the tablet PC market is taking off, as vendors rush to offer a competitor to Apple's iPad, which fills the niche between laptops and smartphones. Recently, a spate of Android tablets have been announced, with some shipping in time for the holidays -- the Samsung Galaxy Tab -- and some not, for instance, Research In Motion's PlayBook and the Cisco Cius.