Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) is the fastest Android yet and out now

Google have release Android 2.3 today and they are claiming that it is the fastest version yet. From a performance point of view, there is now Concurrent garbage collector, Faster event distribution and Updated video drivers. It looks like they are trying to push into the gamers market with many of these new features.

Here is an overview of the main features of Android 2.3 from the Google release:

Enhancements for game development: To improve overall responsiveness, we’ve added a new concurrent garbage collector and optimized the platform’s overall event handling. We’ve also given developers native access to more parts of the system by exposing a broad set of native APIs. From native code, applications can now access input and sensor events, EGL/OpenGL ES, OpenSL ES, and assets, as well a new framework for managing lifecycle and windows. For precise motion processing, developers can use several new sensor types, including gyroscope.

Rich multimedia: To provide a great multimedia environment for games and other applications, we’ve added support for the new video formats VP8 and WebM, as well as support for AAC and AMR-wideband encoding. The platform also provides new audio effects such as reverb, equalization, headphone virtualization, and bass boost.

New forms of communication: The platform now includes support for front-facing camera, SIP/VOIP, and Near Field Communications (NFC), to let developers include new capabilities in their applications.

See what applications are running

One personal gripe of mine has been the low battery time on Android. I recently upgraded my Xperia X10 to 2.1 and found the battery to last a bit longer but 2.3 has addressed the problem as well. As you can see from this screenshot, there is now a “Running” tab that allows you to see what applications are running. From here you can choose to close the app or report feedback to its developer.

Near Field Communications (NFC)

One of the new features that I am really excited about is Near Field Communications that allows the device to read NDEF tags. This is going to allow for the development of a whole host of applications. The obvious one being, “Swipe to pay” applications that will allow you to pay for goods using an app on your android device.

An NFC Reader application lets the user read and interact with near-field communication (NFC) tags. For example, the user can “touch” or “swipe” an NFC tag that might be embedded in a poster, sticker, or advertisement, then act on the data read from the tag. A typical use would be to read a tag at a restaurant, store, or event and then rate or register by jumping to a web site whose URL is included in the tag data. NFC communication relies on wireless technology in the device hardware, so support for the platform’s NFC features on specific devices is determined by their manufacturers.

Checkout the video below for an overview of all of the new features:

For more information about Android 2.3 visit the Platform Highlights page.

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