Google Android 2.3 Gingerbread unveiled

We saw the arrival of the Samsung Google Nexus S yesterday and with it, the arrival of Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Not just confined to that phone, the OS should be hitting several phones in the coming months. So what exactly does it offer?

Essentially, a few tweaks to the existing one, some more substantial than others. It's said to be the fastest and it's also said to work better with apps, ensuring optimum performance and by doing that, offering a longer battery life. Just for those two points, the upgrade is a winner. But there's more.

For a start, there's Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which allows the phone to read information from smart objects - just touch a poster with your phone and get information from it, for example. There's also an enhanced keyboard with multi-touch support, internet calling and a much cleaner user interface. Multi cameras are supported (for video calling for example), as is WebM video playback, with a new Downloads application and enhanced copy and paste finishing off the headline features.

Of course, all the features of past operating systems are there too, with Flash compatibility, the option to use your phone as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, multitasking and access to all those apps on the Android Market.

According to Google, the Nexus One will be the first Android handset to get the upgrade, which should be available to download before the end of December. Details of other upgrades still aren't clear. But the speed of which the Android 2.2 upgrades were rolled out might give you an idea of how long things will take. It certainly isn't going to be a quick job, especially when it comes to contract phones.

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