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Android 2.3

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Android 2.3 a.k.a Gingerbread, the latest version of Android, is still trickling into all the major handsets that support it. Google's mobile OS is on a power hungry growth and has already over taken the iOS market share (not including iPod touch).

The first thing you notice is that it is Open Source, meaning anyone can make a custom version of the OS and slap it on to their hardware. For example, if four different companies use Android, this leads to four slightly varied concoctions. This can be a developer's nightmare; in some cases, a reviewer's too.

So this write up is based solely on the Original Gingerbread as Google intended it to be; the ones that can be found on Nexus one and Nexus S.

Improved overall

Gingerbread is not an overhaul of 2.2 (Froyo) but it brings the whole system closer. The OS now feels more refined more responsive (based on usage on a Nexus S). I had two major gripes about the OS. One was the keyboard. I'm pretty sure there isn't a single android user who uses the default keyboard that came with the OS. This update saw to that. The default keyboard has more features and functions that enable a better typing experience.

One nice enhancement is that you can simultaneously press Shift and a letter to get a symbol or number; this is no need to switch between modes. Another feature is the ability to use your voice to correct words as you type.

Copy/Paste is a HUGE improvement. It looks like it took a leaf out of iOS, but it works fine and that's all we need. The camera app deserves a mention since there is a significant improvement. In case your phone has more than one camera, this lets you switch between them.

There are other subtle improvements; an increase in speed and responsiveness. The whole OS is coming together as a solid performer.

The feature I love about Android in general, irrespective of the version, is that I get to customise the home screen my way.

The second gripe that I had, or rather have, is the touch response. It has improved from fray, but still is nowhere near as good as the iPhone's iOS or Palm's (now HP) webOS.

The Android app store is another big worry. This is not the carefully curated store like Apple's . There is a lot of junk that you have to weave through to get to the good ones.

The Android developer community can't be blamed completely either, because what works well in,' lets say, a Samsung android device may not work well on the HTC android device. Fragmentation has become a major issue.

While Android is shaping up to be an amazing OS, it still has much to improve. Till Google can figure out a way to please everyone, Android will always be my second choice.

Mahesh is a working professional.

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