SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEM DEVELOPER Google has taken the wraps off Android 2.3, offering developers even more tools to play around with.
Known as Gingerbread, Android 2.3 was released alongside Google's Nexus S, and brings features such as concurrent garbage collection and updated event handling, both pitched at games developers. There's native access for OpenGL and OpenSL ES and several motion sensors for what Google claim to be "precise motion processing".
Google has also broadened multimedia support with AAC and AMR-wideband encoding. Android 2.3 also supports Google's WebM video container and the VP8 codec.
There are various APIs to make use of the near field communications (NFC) capabilities in the Nexus S, however for those without Samsung's latest handset the most interesting feature will be Gingerbread's implementation of the SIP stack. It should make it easier for developers to cook up VoIP applications and ultimately will allow Android users enjoy the cost benefits of VoIP.
All of this should make Android devices, once they receive an update to Gingerbread, all the more attractive for games developers. While Android devices haven't been particularly unpopular with developers, Google's decision to give games developers more features and tools follows Apple's success with IOS.
Gaming on IOS has exploded, making devices such as the Ipod Touch more popular than Sony's PSP. As Android continues its march to the top of the smartphone pops, moves to make the operating system more conducive to non-business workloads such as gaming are likely to promote the use of Android in handheld gaming devices in the future.
Google has also updated its SDK, NDK and plug-in for the Eclipse IDE. Android 2.3, is of course open sourced, meaning that anyone who feels up to the task can hack around with it. µ