Need to know – Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

Everything you need to know about Android 2.3 but were afraid to ask

Yesterday, Google unveiled its new smartphone the Nexus S; the first handset to officially run the latest iteration of its OS, Android 2.3, aka, Gingerbread. This newly minted software upgrade brings to the table some performance tweaks, brand spanking new communication features and more ammo for app developers to get creative, especially on the gaming front. If you want to know what new key ingredients make up Gingerbread then step this way.

Near Field Communications

Lets start with the most high profile new feature: NFC. This wireless technology has already been trialed on mobile phones for making contactless credit card payment but Google is hoping to use it in other cool ways. By touching or swiping the phone, the new embedded NFC reader app can tag data on poster or advert, showing info or direct users online to a website or video.

Internet calling

Gingerbread now integrates internet calling into your phonebook, letting you add a VoIP number to your contacts or make a call from a Quick Contact or dialer. Of course you will need to have a VoIP client onboard and as ever internet calling will be at the discretion of your network. Bah humbug.

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Keyboard redesign

For day-to-day operation this one is probably the most important. The new look QWERTY has been revamped to handle speed typing and editing. Dictionary suggestions are displayed more prominently for easier word correction with Smart Suggestion letting you return to your word selection and makes changes from the original list. Also inputting symbols and numbers now involves just a simple shift key press instead of toggling to a separate keyboard.

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One-touch copy and paste

The copy and pasting facility is now less fiddly with one touch, one word automatic selection. Sizeable cursors will then appear to drag if you want to expand the selection to more than one word.

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Improved app management

Unnecessarily or unknowingly running apps in the background can suck your battery dry. The new App Management tool shows you how much juice individual apps are draining. Switch to the Manage Applications via its own shortcut in the main menu or the launcher and you preside over your running apps, killing them instantly to preserve power.

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Multiple cameras

It’s nothing we haven’t seen before on other handsets but if your Android phone sports both a front facing camera and main snapper, you can now easily switch between the two. A boon for those who like to capture gurning self-potraits.

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Smoother gaming

Good news for gaming developers! The new OS update delivers big performance improvements for slicker 3D graphics, faster touch control response, as well as support for Gyroscope and other sensors. More interestingly, there’s support for dedicated gaming buttons used on the PlayStation. You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that the new Sony PlayStation phone will probably be rocking Android 2.3 when, if, it launches next year?

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