Will Android 2.3 Gingerbread meet our expectations?

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While many users are just now receiving Android 2.2 Froyo on their handsets, some are already anticipating the wake of Android 2.3, otherwise known as Gingerbread. People are expecting Gingerbread to make a huge splash when it goes live, but I, for one, don’t think it will.

Earlier this year, I asked the question, ” Is Android 2.2 Froyo all it’s cracked up to be?” and I walked away saying that it was. So when hearing about the dazzling new features rumored for the next version of Android, I got quite excited. The next version of Google’s OS is said to take aim at the user experience. Unfortunately, from the few glimpses that we’ve seen, Duarte, and the Android team haven’t done much to the UI, it seems.

Google has birthed an OS that has (and frustratingly, in some aspects) taken the world by storm. While some features go unrivaled by any smartphone competitor today (NFC , multi-tasking, streaming media, etc.), one has to wonder what Google’s goal is with Android. If Gingerbread is supposed to bring the heat, it best do so with the operating system itself, and not with applications Google decides to announce alongside the new OS version.

Google may be trying to make their OS more attractive to everyone across the board, not just guys. But from the little that we have seen, I’m starting to think it may not be enough. Given what we’ve seen of Gingerbread, it seems Google is focusing on new apps and services for Android, rather than focusing on aspects like usability/UI design and core functionality. Schmidt himself said that he wishes that Google would have focused more on applications in previous versions of the mobile operating system, and that may indeed be the focus in the upcoming version.

That said, we really don’t know everything that the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS will offer at this point. Gingerbread has been rumored come with Google Music, the online Android Market, and possibly even Google Books. The latter of which is much less likely, but would truly bring the heat to Apple and every other competitor out there. Being a big Android fan, this is very good news. At the same time, I’d like Google to concentrate more on the core OS.

Here’s the problem with Gingerbread. Google said that the Android 2.3 OS will focus on user experience, leading many to expect the next major Android update to include a major UI overhaul. From the little we’ve seen, though, the UI has seen anything but that, with only minimal differences in the aesthetics of the user interface. Of course, Google wouldn’t radically change the look of Android. It works very well, after all. But, it could stand to be a bit cleaner around the edges. That said, changing the notification bar black and subtle things just will not fit the bill. Not when we’ve been expecting dazzling UI changes. I guess that’s what hype brings.

So will Gingerbread be able to deliver? Sure, why not? Whatever Google has been working on will be an improvement over the current version of Android OS. It’s what Google hasn’t been working on that will disappoint. I honestly don’t know what I’d like to see from Gingerbread, but what I don’t want to see is Google making some negligible UI tweaks and calling it a major OS update. This is very much a rant, and for the most part, I believe Google will deliver the Gingerbread goods in their own way.

There’s nothing wrong with applications being the highlight of Android 2.3, but we’re just hoping it doesn’t stop there. What do you think about Gingerbread and what it will bring to the table? It’s been a while since the Google I/O, and Gingerbread is now so close to being ready that we can taste it. Will Google hit a grand slam somehow with some unannounced new features, or will we be left wanting Honeycomb immediately?

  • FrankP

    “Schmidt himself said that he wishes that Google would have focused more on applications in previous versions of the mobile operating system, and that may indeed be the focus in the upcoming version.”

    Schmidt said that in response to a question about whether Google should have put more of an emphasis on building the app selection in the early days. Schmidt’s response was a chicken-and-egg type. Dev’s are attracted by user base size. You don’t get the users without the apps. He wasn’t saying that Google should have put more emphasis on building better apps or services. This is different than what I believe you’re arguing.

    Although, it appears that work is finally being performed on improving the market experience.

    • Anonymous

      Good point except I think Microsoft has shown that you can jumpstart a developer environment by shelling out the bucks. Many devs would have never created windows Phone 7 apps until it hit a certain adoption rate but MS smartly poured money into this ecosystem to ensure that the OS launched with apps that users would want.

      I’m not saying that Google should have done this but there are other options for bolstering app communities for new platforms.

      • http://uduogah.wordpress.com/ Phlegon

        Well, Google were giving away a free mobile OS (sorta), what more payment will devs want when they could make money on ads and app sales as well as on the app store. Thou shalt not look a gift horse in the mouth.

  • http://uduogah.wordpress.com/ Phlegon

    In order realms, people have been content with the trickle of features into iOS over time. Give google a chance. It takes time to get things done right. excellence takes time – more so for we flawed humans.

  • Bruce

    I’m a little worried about Gingerbread as well. I wonder if “UI improvements” is code for “no more vendor modification of the UI allowed,” or, even worse, “no more 3rd party launcher apps allowed.” If that is the case, I’m thankful I have Zeam Launcher and Froyo.

  • Pleaper2001

    Well, I have a nexus one and should be receiving the update pretty promptly – however I’m not really expecting a massive change, from the screen shots it looks like my biggest change will be slightly greener icons. I’m ok with this really, I’m more about function than form anyway. I think our biggest problem is the rumor mill that starts spilling half truths and speculation 6 months before any announcement is due, it causes all of us (and I am probably more guilty than most) to follow every announcement official or otherwise and build the expectation such that it can never be met.

    The gingerbread version is probably mainly to get all the manufacturers on the same page and stop all the skinning, that’s what causes year long delays in bringing out updates (ever notice that when the iphone has a software update it’s on everyones device within a week?) Google could do that (or close to it) if everyone used the same version of the os.

    I’m not that excited about gingerbread, but I do want to know what they are doing with bumptop -they aquired it last year and it would make an awesome tablet ui -more rumor for the mill!

  • blah

    Im not sure the author actually understands what gingerbread 2.3 is… It was never Google’s intent, to create a new user experience themselves. Just like the market place, google’s only intention was to create the means for the experience to be improved. Google’s stand-point lets the developements and market determine what it wants while Apple’s dictates. and Microsoft attempts to find a happy medium. If this author wants to be dictated to there are other companies to do it with…

    The point of 2.3 is dramatic changes in native API support. Examples include their support for media in 2.3 allows developers access to lower-level hardware so that things like equalizers do not have to be created from the ground up. The most dramatic things we will see are no home themes which will likely move to coincide with BumpTops acquistions. This is because there is now native GPU drivers and API support which will allow UI developers to take better advantage of the GUI aspects of the hardware. Apples UI is so smooth because it actually uses the GPU. All UI processing was predominantly done on the CPU which is why it was significantly slower… anyway you should see some amazing UI and general user experience effects so based on the dramatic changes in 2.3. 2.3 is not directly for users its the foundation for developers to create the amazing experiences. FYI I was NOT impressed with 2.2 only because of where 2.3 was heading. 2.2 was really just an incremental change to get to this point and beyond.

  • blah

    Im not sure the author actually understands what gingerbread 2.3 is… It was never Google’s intent, to create a new user experience themselves. Just like the market place, google’s only intention was to create the means for the experience to be improved. Google’s stand-point lets the developements and market determine what it wants while Apple’s dictates. and Microsoft attempts to find a happy medium. If this author wants to be dictated to there are other companies to do it with…

    The point of 2.3 is dramatic changes in native API support. Examples include their support for media in 2.3 allows developers access to lower-level hardware so that things like equalizers do not have to be created from the ground up. The most dramatic things we will see are no home themes which will likely move to coincide with BumpTops acquistions. This is because there is now native GPU drivers and API support which will allow UI developers to take better advantage of the GUI aspects of the hardware. Apples UI is so smooth because it actually uses the GPU. All UI processing was predominantly done on the CPU which is why it was significantly slower… anyway you should see some amazing UI and general user experience effects so based on the dramatic changes in 2.3. 2.3 is not directly for users its the foundation for developers to create the amazing experiences. FYI I was NOT impressed with 2.2 only because of where 2.3 was heading. 2.2 was really just an incremental change to get to this point and beyond.

  • blah

    Im not sure the author actually understands what gingerbread 2.3 is… It was never Google’s intent, to create a new user experience themselves. Just like the market place, google’s only intention was to create the means for the experience to be improved. Google’s stand-point lets the developements and market determine what it wants while Apple’s dictates. and Microsoft attempts to find a happy medium. If this author wants to be dictated to there are other companies to do it with…

    The point of 2.3 is dramatic changes in native API support. Examples include their support for media in 2.3 allows developers access to lower-level hardware so that things like equalizers do not have to be created from the ground up. The most dramatic things we will see are no home themes which will likely move to coincide with BumpTops acquistions. This is because there is now native GPU drivers and API support which will allow UI developers to take better advantage of the GUI aspects of the hardware. Apples UI is so smooth because it actually uses the GPU. All UI processing was predominantly done on the CPU which is why it was significantly slower… anyway you should see some amazing UI and general user experience effects so based on the dramatic changes in 2.3. 2.3 is not directly for users its the foundation for developers to create the amazing experiences. FYI I was NOT impressed with 2.2 only because of where 2.3 was heading. 2.2 was really just an incremental change to get to this point and beyond.

  • http://viettelonline.com/ LienDTK

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