Android 3.0: leaked details hint at tablet potential

According to Mobile Review blogger Eldar Murtazin, who generally has a good track record on mobile rumors, the new version will require a 1GHz CPU and 512MB of RAM. It will also bring support for a screen resolution of 1280x760 for devices with displays that are 4 inches or larger. The need for a higher screen resolution on large form-factor Android phones is an issue that we highlighted in our recent review of the HTC Evo 4G, but a more intriguing implication is that it could make Android a more compelling choice for tablet-sized devices.

Several hardware makers have already created Android tablet prototypes with high-resolution screens by tweaking the platform themselves, but the current user interface is arguably suboptimal for a widescreen tablet form factor. For example, the default home screen for Android 2.x doesn't even support landscape orientation when the phone is rotated.

A leak earlier this month revealed that Google is planning a major user interface overhaul for Gingerbread to reduce the need for third-party user interface customizations, such as HTC's Sense user experience. It's possible that the search giant will take the opportunity to make sure that its new user interface will scale up well for tablet-like devices.

Another factor that might give Android on tablets a boost is Intel's recent involvement in an official x86 port of the platform. Increased investment in the x86 port is unsurprising because the Android-derived Google TV platform is intended to run principally on Atom-based set-top boxes.

Intel still heavily backs MeeGo for tablets rather than Android, but improvements to Android's x86 support could still potentially simplify matters for OEMs who want to pair Android with Atom in tablet-like devices.

According to the newly leaked information about Gingerbread, Google plans to keep Android 2.2 around for the foreseeable future and will maintain it in parallel with 3.0. The purpose of maintaining both is to ensure that 2.2 is still available for lower-end devices that don't match the high minimum specifications for 3.0. This is somewhat similar to Nokia's strategy of using MeeGo on smartphones and Symbian for less expensive mass-market Internet-enabled phones.

Although much of the information that is trickling out about Gingerbread has been corroborated by multiple leaks, Google has not yet provided any official confirmation. It's puzzling, and disconcerting, that developers and Android enthusiasts are forced to rely on leaks and rumors in order to piece together the development roadmap of a platform that is supposedly "open."

Source: ars technica

Tags: Android, Google, mobile phones

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