The next version of Google’s mobile operating system isn’t expected to come out until this fall, but many of the details have leaked out already. Android OS 3.0 is reportedly going to require fairly high-end hardware to run, and will include a significantly updated user interface.
Since this operating system debuted in 2008, updates have concentrated on adding new functionality, with only small tweaks made to the user interface. The next version — code-named Gingerbread — is supposedly going to change this by offering a significantly updated UI.
No screenshots of the new UI have leaked out yet, but is expected to use more advanced graphics and a 3D look and feel similar to some of the apps Google has released for the Nexus One.
Google’s plan in updating the user interface is allegedly to make third-party UIs like HTC Sense and MotoBlur unnecessary.
According to an unconfirmed report from Eldar Murtazin, Google is going to have a set of hardware requirements for companies using Android OS 3.0. This will restrict it to only fairly high-end models, as they will supposedly have to include a 1 GHz processor or faster, 512 MB of RAM or more, and a display at least 3.5 inches.
Companies wanting to create smartphones that don’t meet these requirements will have to use Android OS 2.2. Google reportedly intends to make this less of a burden for users by splitting its applications out of the operating system, so that people will be able to run the latest version of Google Maps, for example, without having to be running the latest version of the OS.
As time goes by, and 1 GHz processors drop in price, even the least expensive smartphones will be able to run Android OS 3.0. By then, it’s likely a newer version of Google’s operating system will require even faster processors. Motorola has promised to release a smartphone with a 2 GHz processor by the end of this year.
There are a number of companies making tablet computers running Google’s smartphone operating system. These efforts are hobbled by a limitation in the current version of the Android OS: the highest resolution supported is WVGA (800×640). This is good resolution for a display that’s less than 5 inches, but it’s totally inadequate for a 10-inch screen.
Android OS 3.0 will reportedly remove this limitation by bringing support for 1280×760 displays. This is close to the resolution used by the Apple iPad.
Coming in Mid Fall
The next version of Google’s mobile operating system is supposedly scheduled to go to device makers in mid October.
The first devices running it will allegedly be out in November and December, in time for the holiday shopping season. Upgrades for devices already on the market could be out more quickly.
UPDATE (July 2): Dan Morrill, Android’s Open Source and Compatibility Tech Lead, has denied that this report is true. He wrote on Twitter, “I love it when people just make stuff up and report it as news.”