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Android This Week: Gingerbread Installed; Cloud Music; Great Keyboard

I spent this past week taking a taste of Gingerbread on my Nexus One, which is baked from a custom ROM I found during some downtime at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). While Gingerbread officially arrived when the Samsung Nexus S debuted in December, all other handsets are still waiting for this version, which is Google (s goog) Android 2.3.

The build is based from the AOSP, or Android Open Source Project, effort and I’m finding it to be very solid, as I’ve used it full-time for the past seven days. I have yet to find a feature that isn’t working; I love the old-school way the screen shuts off (like an old tube television set); and the new Gingerbread keyboard is much improved. For Nexus One owners that use custom ROMs — and I’m betting that’s a reasonably large community — this Gingerbread ROM can be installed and removed at will with any recovery image.

Since my 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab is still running on Android 2.2, I’ve been looking for alternative keyboards that work better for me on the larger screen. Our video review shows that Swype is a good option, but as we discussed on our weekly podcast yesterday, I’m not a fan of Swype on larger screens; tablet devices have enough room for me to thumb-type faster. After trying several keyboards, I’ve settled on SwiftKey, which is currently on a half-priced sale for $1.99. Even at the regular price, it’s well worth it, due to support for skins and a stellar word prediction algorithm that behaves like a talented mind-reader and learns your typing habits.

This week, a number of tech blogs are revisiting Google’s potential launch of a music streaming service for Android devices. I discovered the Android music-sync feature last month when I installed the leaked beta of Google Music on my tablet, and I then set up my music to be synced to the cloud. While the sync mechanism has been churning away successfully for weeks to my Google account, I haven’t yet seen exactly where in the cloud my music is being stored. Presumably, Google will add music streaming to its Google Music web service, and I’ll be ahead of the game, because I expect web-based copies of my music collection to be there at that time.

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7 Responses to “Android This Week: Gingerbread Installed; Cloud Music; Great Keyboard”

  1. Jahan Khan Rashid

    Im hoping the music service will be just like Googles Picasa, all my online Picture albums pop up in androids Gallery 3d, thumbnails are there instantly, click on the 7mp pic and bam a few seconds later its there. I think the 20 gig of online storage for Pictures cost £3/year on google. It wil probably be the same for music, heres hoping. Im so glad im on the true unlimited mobile broadband plan on 3UK as it looks like its going to be needed!!

  2. My gut feeling is that with the ongoing issue of bandwidth caps, now that with the whitespace available for use, Google is putting things in motion that will eventually free us all from these limitations. Since people are moving more toward mobiles (more streaming video, music, voice), the only limitation are those caps and Google wants every avenue to reach you without hindrance. But then again, I may just be craaaaazzzzyyy. ;)

  3. I am enjoying Android very much — more so than iOS. I think it has to do with the flexibility that Android offers. I am currently, playing with the myTouch 4G and I simply love the phone.

    My only issue with Android is lack of a good podcast service. I use Stitcher which serves my needs. I am hoping the Google invests some time in this area. The streaming music service sounds very interesting. Although, having a data cap may hamper wide spread usage of any such service.

  4. I love SwiftKey. It is the only app that I’ve bought for my Android, but I’m really glad that I got it. It predicts words really well, and it’s fast.

    Thanks for the news that it’s still going to work for 2.3. I hope it comes to my Nexus One soon!

    • Don’t think it will be quite like Spotify, Jack. Based on what I’ve seen so far, this expected Google Music feature in Android looks like a way to store your purchased musc in the cloud and stream it over a data connection. AFAIK, Spotify offers a huge database of music for listening and doesn’t require you to own, upload or sync and local music.

      Given that the other Google services I sync between my Android devices the cloud are free (Gmail, Contacts, Calendar), I’m hoping that the Music sync is free as well, but we’ll have to see. Even if it is, I’d expect some type of storage limit; say 25 GB or so.