Now that almost every high-end smartphone has received or is in the process of receiving the upgrade to Android 2.2, attention turns to Android 3.0, the Gingerbread build optimized for tablet computers.
Thanks to Android-watching blog Phandroid, the world now knows a bit more.
In addition to what appears to be a major graphical overhaul of icons and user interface, the biggest confirmed features coming in Android 3.0 include video chat support leveraging the Google Talk protocols and SIP support for Google Voice.
SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) in Google Voice will let users receive calls to Google Voice over WiFi and cellular data.
"For those who use Android devices without a voice plan, this means you can still use your phone as a phone as long as you're near a WiFi connection," the blog noted. "Nothing groundbreaking considering there are many VOIP options in the market currently, but it's notable that Google's adding this support natively."
This shouldn't come as a surprise. Google has shown a knack for porting technology from existing Web applications and inserting them into other Web services.
In fact, Google Voice has already provided a prime example of this with Google's integration of Google Voice into Gmail to let users call phones via Gmail.
Google declined to confirm the Gingerbread details when asked, noting that: "Gingerbread is due out by the end of the year but we have nothing else to say at this time."
Phandroid offered evidence of a graphical overhaul in a blurry screenshot, noting that most of the standard icons have been redesigned for a simpler and cleaner look, speculating that this could be the work of UI whiz Matias Duarte, who joined Google from Palm in May.
Moreover, apps in Android 3.0 will more closely hew to the OS, the blog said. Specifically, the YouTube app on Android 3.0 will include the ability to control YouTube Leanback, which provides continuous video play for Google TV.
This is crucial because Android handsets are expected to serve as another remote control for Google TV beyond the Logitech keyboard controller and Sony Internet TV and Blu-ray player remote controls.
Of course, what is known is that Android 3.0 has been optimized for tablet computers, thanks to the well-documented 1,280-by-760 resolution.
Indeed, LG scrapped offering an Android 2.2 tablet, likely in anticipation of Android 3.0 later this year or early 2011.
Finally, we know Android 3.0 tablets are coming, thanks to Digitimes, which said Oct. 19 that Google has recently notified its partners that tablet PC engineer samples for Android 3.0 will appear in December.