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Google announces Android 3.1 | Download

Google announces Android 3.1 | Download – Google has just announced Android 3.1, and it’s rolling out to Verizon Xoom 3G customers today. It brings with it a range of improvements and refinements including resizeable widgets, and a new host mode that will let you import photos to your tablet directly from your digital camera, and take advantage of a “ridiculous” number of USB devices, even including Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controllers. It also includes Google’s new Movies app that will let you rent thousands of movies from the Android market, a new Books app, a new video editing app dubbed Movie Studio, and updated versions of most of Google’s main apps, including a “faster” web browser with a new Quick Controls menu — and to top things off, the OS will be hitting Google TV sometime “this summer” as well. Unfortunately, there’s still no firm word on when it will hit non-Xoom 3G tablets, although Google did mention that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 that it’s giving away to everyone at IO will be getting the update in the “next couple of weeks.”

It seems many of 3.1′s changes are under the hood. The Xoom I’m using is noticeably faster. The app screen loads nearly instantly, as do many apps. I’m no longer looking at a black screen while switching between apps, either. But the Quadrant benchmarking app disagrees. My 3.0.1 Xoom scored 1824 while the 3.1 scored 1580. The easy answer is perhaps that Quadrant needs to be recompiled for 3.1.

3.1 also addressed many issues with the browser. It now supports HTML5 video, enhanced CSS 3D, as well as now being able to save pages for offline viewing. But I don’t really care about those features. All I care about is that it’s quicker, and pinch-to-zoom is as smooth as the iPad’s. Really, the browser is a star performer now.

Previously, 3.0 supported USB keyboards; USB mice are now supported as well and work in single button mode. Scroll wheels are apparently supported as well but I have no way of testing that as the Xoom does not feature a USB host.


Performance optimizations

Android 3.1 includes a variety of performance optimizations that help make applications faster and more responsive. Some of the optimizations include:

  • A new LRU cache class lets applications benefit from efficient caching. Applications can use the class to reduce the time spent computing or downloading data from the network, while maintaining a sensible memory footprint for the cached data.
  • The UI framework now supports partial invalidates in hardware-accelerated Views, which makes drawing operations in those Views more efficient.
  • A new graphics method, setHasAlpha(), allows apps to hint that a given bitmap is opaque. This provides an extra performance boost for some types of blits and is especially useful for applications that use ARGB_8888 bitmaps.Release DateThe Android 3.1 upgrade should be pushed to tablets like the Motorola XOOM and T-Mobile G-Slate in the coming days and weeks. Upcoming tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will also receive this upgrade.
  • Google announces Android 3.1 | Download

    Google announces Android 3.1 | Download

    Google announces Android 3.1 | Download

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