06
Dec
keyboard_wm

As you may have seen, Google took the covers off Gingerbread today and released the new SDK, which allowed me to immediately jump into an emulated Gingerbread instance. After playing with the new UI for a while, I've taken a bunch of screenshots, which you can find below, along with some of my notes.

Before I dive into the Gingerbread screenshots, here is a side-by-side comparison of the same Settings screen in Donut (1.6), Froyo (2.2), and Gingerbread (2.3):

12-6-2010 01-06-01 PM.donut_wm 12-6-2010 01-06-01 PM.froyo_wm 12-6-2010 01-06-01 PM_wm

From left to right: Donut, Froyo, Gingerbread

As you can see, not much has changed since Froyo, except for most of the elements getting darker and/or greener. Below, you will see the new checkbox, dropdown, and radio button styles, which are also darker and more defined. Frankly, I like the new UI.

device_wm apps_wm 12-6-2010 1-03-13 PM_wm 12-6-2010 1-02-42 PM_wm

When you reach the end of a list during scrolling, you now get a nice orange glow effect on the bottom:

 12-6-2010 12-59-51 PM_wm

The Applications Settings screen has also undergone some renovation - you can see a funnel-like UI element on the bottom and a nice status bar showing free/used space. There is also more application info now, which shines a lot more light on what each entry in the list is doing.

12-6-2010 01-12-01 PM_wm 12-6-2010 01-13-01 PM_wm 12-6-2010 01-14-01 PM_wm

The Battery Use part of Settings also received a complete overhaul, which, unfortunately, we can't yet see in full glory, as the emulator is not battery-powered.

12-6-2010 01-16-01 PM_wm

The new default software keyboard is extremely sexy (click the images to see the large version, which really shows the new keyboard in all its splendor):

keyboard_wm keyboard2_wm keyboard3_wm

The dialer is now very dark and kind of gloomy looking. At first, I thought it didn't render properly. Are we in perma-night mode?

dialer_wm

For some reason, the Gingerbread emulator instance is CRAWLING slow. I've fired up the Froyo and Donut instances side by side, and while those fly pretty fast, the Gingerbread one stutters and even gave me an ANR in the browser (Application Not Responding). However, Google's own Brian Swetland is assuring Android users that Gingerbread will be the zippiest version yet, so we have no fears in that regard.

anr_wm

That was a quick rundown of the new Gingerbread UI. Now I am moving on to the new features of Eclipse ADT, which are likely to make Android developers much less disgruntled (if you've ever developed for Android, you know how frustrating the environment can be).

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • max

    great article defiantly gave a better look

  • wirbly

    It's definitely very, very slow in the emulator. I'm not looking forward to developing with it. (on a quad-core no less)

    Also, what's with the gui? I was expecting refinement, not removal. The blank/black dialog headers are weird, checkboxes look like they were drawn in Paint, etc. The whole thing looks like a pre-release version of Android. I'm kinda thrown here.

    The under-the-hood goodies are genuinely exciting though, both as a dev and a user. Concurrent garbage collection is gonna be nifty, and the SIP API has potential.

  • ScrewedJ

    Screw Eclipse! What's in it for those of us who use Notepad?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I hope you're kidding here.

      • Tyler

        Actually, a little part of me hopes he isn't...

  • bluevodoo

    I might be hated for saying this but i like my sense UI on evo 4g and i think its really pretty even compared to gingerbread i hope i get best of both worlds

  • Michael

    How can a keyboard be sexy? Its just letters and numbers. Is this phone your girlfriend?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Have you seen the previous stock keyboard? This is the definition of sexy compared to that. Also, it's a figure of speech - don't take it literally.

      And sometimes, my phone is my everything and more important than a girlfriend.

      • Moonie17

        Yeah totally agree with you here.... the previous stock keyboards made me want to throw up on myself! and yeah my phone takes priority..... woman pfft

  • behelit

    Love the flatter look and the dark theme will definitely be a huge plus to us amoled users :)

  • boriqua2000

    will we get gmail video chat with this version of andriod??

  • acer_liquid

    darker screens help battery drain on AMOLED screens.

  • jr200

    I agree with wirbly on the UI changes. The King has no clothes. The checkbox is incredibly ugly and harkens back to character based UI's of the 80's. The default dialog boxes are DARK--great if you're a fan of a black theme. And I'm just blown away by the black notification area. Gee, what an improvement. But, hey, if it saves battery life, it must be good. The humans will adapt. I do like the new support for overscroll on ListBoxes, etc.

    I'm just a dabbler in Android development and am only using the Emulator while I wait for a decent, cost-effective Wi-FI tablet or iPod touch type device. (And why is it, that with all the manufacturers building Android devices and a free OS, we still can't get a decent iPod touch 4 type device for around $200?)

    2.3 seems a little slower and video tends to freeze upon starting. The camera intent still crashes in the emulator (why can't it fail gracefully so I can still test this feature). Little development problems that I've run into remain unresolved. For example, the Eclipse file manager still won't display the contents of folders that include a space in the name. Haven't checked whether the SlidingDrawer component works in the Layout editor or whether one can now change a Theme at runtime (probably not). This is just my very small slice of the development world, but it seems like Google keeps adding nice under-the-hood features, but doesn't sufficiently tighten up the development environment and UI.

    For now, I'll probably revert back to 2.2. I really had hoped that 2.3 would be the release that would drive the market into a highly competitive, commodity based one with cheap devices and a good non-carrier UI right out of the box. But I don't see it. Just more of the same expensive devices locked into carriers.

    I received an Apple iPod touch 4 in September as a gift. As much as I would like to see Android succeed (for the reasons mentioned above), I'm beginning to doubt this likelihood. Apple's UI and attention to detail seems superior. Unlike the personal computer market, I don't yet see any cost advantage emerging for comparable quality "open" Android devices. When compared to the cost and feature set of an iPod touch 4 (retina display, multiple cameras, size, cost), does any Android device even come close? Samsung Wi-FI Galaxy Tabs should be available and priced in the $250 - $400 range. But this is not the case.

    Disappointed that we waited 6 months for this underwhelming release.