Dec 06 AT 11:26 AM Taylor Wimberly 36 Comments

Android 2.3 SDK released, Gingerbread features revealed

Today is the big day most of us have been waiting for. Google just released the Android 2.3 software development kit (SDK) for developers and Samsung has officially announced the details of their Nexus S.

Google uploaded a quick video to show off the Android 2.3 highlights. New additions include UI refinements for simplicity and speed, faster more intuitive text input, one-touch word selection and copy/paste, improved power management, control over applications, and new ways of communicating, organizing.

Look for more details to leak throughout the day and don’t forget Google’s Andy Rubin is scheduled to speak tonight at D: Dive Into Mobile where he should share more info.

Some new features in Android 2.3 that are available to developers include:

SIP-based VOIP: The platform now includes a SIP protocol stack and framework API that lets developers build internet telephony applications. Using the API, applications can offer voice calling features without having to manage sessions, transport-level communication, or audio – these are handled transparently by the platform’s SIP API and services.

Near Field Communications (NFC): Android 2.3 includes an NFC stack and framework API that lets developers read NDEF tags that are discovered as a user touches an NFC-enabled device to tag elements embedded in stickers, smart posters, and even other devices.

Gyroscope and other sensors: Android 2.3 adds platform and API support for several new sensor reading types – gyroscope, rotation vector, linear acceleration, gravity, and barometer. Developers can use the new sensor readings to create applications that respond quickly and smoothly to precise changes in device position and motion. The Sensor API reports gyroscope and other sensor changes to interested applications, whether they are running on the application framework or in native code.

Multiple cameras support: Applications can now make use of any cameras that are available on a device, for either photo or video capture. The Camera lets applications query for the number of cameras available and the unique characteristics of each.

Mixable audio effects: The platform’s media framework adds support for new per-track or global audio effects, including bass boost, headphone virtualization, equalization, and reverb.

Download manager: The platform includes a new DownloadManager system service that handles long-running HTTP downloads. Applications can request that a URI be downloaded to a particular destination file. The DownloadManager will conduct the download in the background, taking care of HTTP interactions and retrying downloads after failures or across connectivity changes and system reboots.

StrictMode: To help developers monitor and improve the performance of their applications, the platform offers a new system facility called StrictMode. When implemented in an application, StrictMode catches and notifies the developer of accidental disk or network activity that could degrade application performance, such as activity taking place on the application’s main thread (where UI operations are received and animations are also taking place). Developers can evaluate the network and disk usages issues raised in StrictMode and correct them if needed, keeping the main thread more responsive and preventing ANR dialogs from being shown to users.

UI Framework: Support for overscroll, Support for touch filtering, Improved event management, Improved motion events, Text selection controls, Activity controls, Notification text and icon styles, WebView

Extra Large Screens: The platform now supports extra large screen sizes, such as those that might be found on tablet devices.

Graphics: Adds remaining OpenGL ES 2.0 methods glDrawElements() and glVertexAttribPointer() in the android.opengl.GLES20 class.


Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website Gee

    Looks like they just replaced the whites with black, even in areas where it looks obviously awful. A step down from Froyo graphic wise. At least I can revert it via rooting.

    • http://Website Daniel

      The options menu looks quite bad, and the browser/phone icons on the home screen aren’t the best, but other than that, I’m liking what I’ve seen so far.

      Any particular area you think looks bad?

      • http://Website Darshan

        The options menu, as you mentioned, but especially the status bar. I find it harder to read, and I think it looks ugly.

        (I suppose I should admit my bias: as the developer of Battery Indicator, I’ve done my best to make my icons look acceptable on dark status bars, but I’ve always considered them an annoyance and non-standard. I’m going to have to give some serious thought into how to deal with this new look for stock Android. I honestly think my dislike for the appearance of the new black status bar is entirely separate form this, however.)

        • http://Website Daniel

          As a developer, I absolutely agree about a black status bar being an annoyance because it can change the visibility of an icon completely.

          That said, after using Sense, I must say I find a dark status bar (Sense’s particular theme, to be specific) much better, both in looks and in drawing less attention away from the app. Gingerbread’s status bar seems to be all-black (rather than some sort of gradient or grayish tone), reminding me of Windows Phone 7, and appears to be even better than Sense in both regards I just mentioned. Therefore, I’m completely in favor of the new style, for both the status bar and the notification icons.

          • http://Website Darshan

            Well, it’s good to hear your experience of it. I’m trying to stay open-minded about it. My Nexus should be getting the upgrade in the next few weeks, so I’ll get a chance to get used to it on a physical device (as opposed to my initial reaction from pictures and using it on the emulator).

            Dealing with it as a developer would sure be easier if Notifications could use a Drawable rather than requiring a Resource ID (forcing us to include every possible status bar icon in the APK), because then we could generate appropriate icons on the fly.

            I don’t really follow the reasons they declined Enhancement Issue 9107 [ ], so a friend and I have talked about digging into the code and seeing if they’d accept a working patch.

    • Sean the Electrofreak

      Blacks are more battery efficient, particularly on AMOLED displays.

  • http://Website Jay

    Nexus S also appeared on google.

    Google Phone Page

    Google Nexus Page

    • http://Website Mocha K

      The nexus s is nothing groudbreaking. I was expecting dual-core, HSPA+, but I guess not.

    • http://Website Kimbo

      Single core, no HSPA+… what a bummer :( Still a great phone, but with the dual core HSPA+ stuff just around the corner, the only plus to having this phone would be getting the latest and greatest version of Android ; a big plus mind you, but not enough for me to pick it up.

      • http://Website Aranea

        You can always get the latest version of Android y rooting the phone. For me also lack of dual-core and HSPA+ are two disappointments.

  • http://Website blksol5

    Wheres information on the nexus s…? Its used in the video.. but what else has been released about it..?

  • pechano

    Yeah, the cat is finally out of the bag. Hope HTC will be just as fast with a Gingerbread build on Desire as they were with Froyo. That shit was awesome!

    • http://Website nate

      Well if HTC can’t deliver there is always CM7

  • http://Website Jay

    Also found it on the google mobile blog.

    I want it now!!

  • http://Website Mikey

    How about an improved adobe flash?

  • http://Website MP

    No dual core for the Nexus S!/tech-specs :( …… very disappointed

    • http://Website mikey

      Glad I went ahead anf got the mt4g.

  • http://Website Dee

    i feel a bit let down.
    while this is fantastic news i feel like the more major things will be felt down the road.
    although the new keyboard is wonderful fantastic news. as well as better CnP methods also being able to hit shift and press a symbol rather than press the symbol button then press the symbol. also im assuming with honeycomb they plan on revamping the music player app…? they added the EQ and such.
    so it looks like honeycomb is going to be the major revamp we all want

  • http://Website Daniel

    The multimedia APIs were definitely among the weakest parts of Android, nice to see so many improvements. From low-latency audio to having to write wrappers for applications that ought to be mostly native, they seem to have taken care of pretty much every single major limitation of the platform.

    Since they also brag about the improved keyboard, here’s hoping they also fixed the numeric mode… (when you set a field’s inputType to “number”, the system shows the full symbol keyboard, which is really awkward and pointless for numeric input; which is why many applications instead always used inputType=phone, because the phone keyboard at least makes sense)

  • http://Website Togsy

    Thats aweseom, although just cant wait for it to be on my Desire HD, if HTC dont get it out soon, rooting may be the only option. CM7???

  • http://Website GabMacFadden

    Wow! hope they release the 2.3 for the Galaxy S phones soon!!!

    • http://Website UMA Fan

      I doubt the Galaxy S phone will see anything past 2.2

      • Sean the Electrofreak

        Well, since the Nexus S has the same basic hardware as a Galaxy S, and since it will be running Gingerbread, it won’t be difficult to port Gingerbread over to the Galaxy S phones.

        In fact, the Nexus S having standard fare Galaxy S hardware is a boon to ALL of the Galaxy S phones; we’re now basically set to have all of the Android updates. We may also see more optimization for the Hummingbird SoC where Google has been optimizing for Snapdragon until now.

  • http://Website 0000

    No dual core Processor = No sale

    I can wait.

  • http://Website johnny b

    This phone looks sick. Anyone who hates that its not a dual core… don’t buy the damn thing then. Simple,solved, done! I highly doubt that there is ever gonna be a phone with everything that everyone likes. But man android sure is making an effort to produce a phone with everyone in mind give or take the little things. Just saying…

    • Gomez

      How is this supposed to be a developers phone when dual core phones start coming out within a few months. Its bad for ANDROID!

      • http://Website johnny b

        Its bad for android?!?!? Lol. What ever. Dual core, single core … a badass phone is a badass phone! And just because the technology for a dual core android phones is out there does it mean all the new android phones are gonna come with a dual core processor? ?? Doubt it. Now the LG vortex is bad for android… the Motorola devour was bad for android… the xperia 10 with android 1.6 is bad for android. Not the nexus s lol.

        • http://Website Zach

          I understand what you mean, but as a dev myself and that dual-core processors in phones are coming I want a dev phone WITH a dual-core processor so i can experiment with it.
          The Nexus S is a let down because it’s not enough of a jump forward compared to what the nexus one was to the google one.
          That’s why people are complaining.

  • http://Website Roly

    Rumors are that the GUI is finally as smooth as IOS, some say it is hardware accelerated as many anticipated. I have yet to find any proof though, personally I’m afraid we have to wait until Honeycomb for that. I’m looking forward to try Gingerbread nevertheless.

    • http://Website Tony

      Well I have a feeling it’ll be alot more responsive then Froyo. Basically the 2 things making the UI responsiveness slow was slow garbage collection, and not using the GPU for the UI stuff. The Gingerbread SDK says they added concurrent garbage collection which should mostly get rid of that limitation, but still won’t have GPU hardware acceleration, so as far as improbed UI responsiveness I expect it’ll def be improved, but prob half-way between Froyo and iOS somewhere.

  • http://Website JP Wilson


  • http://Website Steffen

    While it’s not what I was expecting, if you take it for what it is (minor UI tweaks, and some nice new tools for developers), the only thing I’m disappointed with is the signal indicator lol. That thing looks hideous and disproportionate. I also had a theory that this would be themeable. Judging by the color scheme (flat black and green) it really seemed like they could have implemented a color changing feature. So I’m disappointed with that too. I also want to be able to push an app to my phone from the market website like they showed back at I/O. Where is that Google???

  • http://Website AC

    It says “The platform now supports extra large screen sizes”, but there’s no exact data. Does anyone know exactly what resolutions Gingerbread supports?

  • http://Website Alan Robertson

    And STILL no proper on-device MS Exchange encryption support – come on Google, sort it already!

    Issue logged at


  • http://Website Scott

    I have to be honest… I’m seriously let down.

    Its not Google fault really it’s mine for falling for all the over done hype and rumour mill from the Android Blogs.

    I remember when the first couple blurry cam shots came out of Gingerbread and the tipsters were teling everyone ” Yea, well theres a dark status bar now and all the icons have green accents.”
    I remember all the commenters laughing their asses off because Google had said “Massive UI Overhaul.”
    I believed Google was going to finally ride they’re new hard-earned market share and skyrockting mind-share and come out swinging with a fancy-pants new UI that would fiiinally give iOS and WebOS a run for their money.
    It would be Google coming into they’re own, almost like a celebration come-out party telling everyone, “yea, our UI has always been a little janky and not the prettiest to look at. But it’s also kicked some major ass and now we’ve given it the UI it deserves.”

    But no… Google just gave us some Chocolate Froyo with some green sprinkles.

    And as for features?
    They didnt even show off Google video chat?!! (yes i know theres evidence of its existence in the SDK)

    And, let’s be honest… No regular user gives a shi% about VP8 and WebM support, a new download manager, new game and gyroscope API’s and NFC until there are sites that acutally use WebM and Vp8, games that use the new API and gyroscpoe (not many since no one has a phone with a gyroscpe and gingerbread), or their actually services that we use that have NFC.

    And let’s not forget last summers google event:

    Gmusic = streaming our music library to our phones and presumably anywhere we can connect to our google account. (Bought up Simple Media… etc.)
    Market overhaul = No announement of the new market advancements in gingerbread, where you can install apps via the internet (yes i know appbrain does this)
    The Blind Type acquisition = Wheres the amazing new keyboard? Wow you spread the keys apart and added multitouch? yaaawwwwn.
    Video chat.. obvious no brainer

    I can’t tell if Google is just holding they’re breath and will release these things as separate apps or services, but this release of Gingerbread is a total bore.

    I understand Honeycomb is coming soon and that does look pretty amazing from what we saw from Andy Rubin.

    But Im really not sure why they felt the need to install a Gingerbread man on their Google lawn.