What to expect in Android Gingerbread

New rumours suggest that Android 3.0 will deliver an integrated video-chat system, alongside an updated look for the user interface.

Joseph Hanlon Special to CNET News
Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies.
Joseph Hanlon
2 min read
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The rumour mill is once again churning through a swathe of Google Android speculation, suggesting that Android 3.0 will deliver an integrated video-chat system, alongside an updated look for the user interface.

Android fan blogs are buzzing with a variety of gossip, with Android Police reporting that the Gingerbread developer's SDK will be released to the public by the end of this week — a sure sign that the update will follow shortly after. Meanwhile, fellow blog Phandroid has posted upgrade details for the upcoming update.

The most important improvement, if perhaps the least exciting, is that Google is working to separate the different components of the platform it offers manufacturers so that it can easily offer firmware updates directly to users and attempt to clean up the platform fragmentation that has plagued Android since day one. Google has already begun this process, offering tools like Gmail and Google Maps as independent downloads on the Android Market, but it is believed this will be taken further when Gingerbread is released.

For end users, it's believed the experience will be updated with an extensive user interface makeover. This will include changes to the fonts used, the design of application icons, and the size and shape of drop-down menus and check boxes — hopefully making these elements easier to interact with. Phandroid says Google is unlikely to change the style and functionality of the home screens in Android, given how many apps take advantage of the current widget system.

Playing catch-up with Apple's iOS, Android Gingerbread may offer integrated video-calling, and if an interview with Google's Andy Rubin (recalled by Computerworld) is correct, this video-chat system could tie-in with the Google Talk app already on Android. Rubin said in the interview: "Whether [video chat on the desktop] can be re-purposed and made appropriate for sipping bandwidth for mobile, it's an exercise that's underway."

Other areas Google could focus on for this update could be gaming, social media and the long-rumoured Google Music project. Though there is no firm dates for a Gingerbread release, conversations we've had with Google recently suggest the company is aiming for a pre-Christmas announcement. If the Gingerbread SDK does get released this week, it should give us a much better idea of what's coming in 3.0.