Google Gingerbread man's arrival fuels Android update anticipation

The next version of Android is probably just around the corner.

The arrival of a giant Gingerbread man statue on Google’s Mountain View campus signals that the next version of the Android operating system is probably just around the corner.

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The next version of the Android OS, dubbed “Gingerbread” in keeping with Google’s tradition of naming new versions of the operating system after sweets, is expected to possibly officially be Version 2.3 of the increasingly popular mobile platform, though some have speculated it could be Version 3.0.

In releasing a video of the roughly 10-foot-high Gingerbread man’s delivery, Google simply wrote: “We’ve been baking something … and it’s pretty sweet.”

Android 2.2 was dubbed Froyo. After Gingerbread, following alphabetical order, are expected to be Honeycomb and then Ice Cream. As with Gingerbread, Google has preceded the arrival of new versions of Android by delivering statues and other paraphernalia depicting the codenamed dessert to its offices. The Froyo OS arrived about a week after the statue came the last time.

Speculation has been rampant that the Gingerbread release will be geared toward tablet computers, boasting a stronger user interface and better performance for apps such as gaming. Dell and other vendors have released Android-based tablets already,  but others such as LG have conceded that the current Version of Android, 2.2, isn’t really suitable for tablets.

Android has been gaining momentum, with market watchers issuing reports seemingly weekly pointing to the Google operating system gaining ground or surpassing more established mobile OSes. ChangeWave, for example, last month said companies are increasingly spending their smartphone dollars on Google Android devices, at least in part at the expense of RIM BlackBerry devices.

Some industry watchers have raised concerns about fragmentation of the Android market across its different OS versions, though Google’s latest numbers show that users increasingly are flocking to the newest editions of the OS.

Follow Bob Brown on Twitter at www.twitter.com/alphadoggs

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