The YouTube app has been modified to allow for in-line video which letâ€™s the video play at the top of the page while you can still access info about the video. If youâ€™d like to watch in fullscreen, just turn the phone to landscape view.
While watching the video in portrait mode, you have access to the video description, related videos, and comments. You can also give a video at thumbs up or down, save it to a playlist, favorite it, share it (via the native share menu), or copy the URL. The improved app even supports captions which is pretty cool for anyone that needs translation or accessibility.
You can also access your own channel and upload or delete videos and the player bar has been refined to look more like it does on the desktop flash player. A large and easy to grab nub has been added to the seeking cursor to make it easier to seek through videos, but you can only seek in fullscreen mode.
Android 2.3 has a really cool lock animation built right in. The effect takes on the look of a classic tube-TV turning off and is very smooth and very convincing. It looks great! If you look carefully at one particular part of the screen, you can almost see the color fields separate as the image collapses and the screen shuts off. Without a great contrast ratio, this effect wouldnâ€™t be convincing because youâ€™d be able to see that the screen doesnâ€™t actually turn off until the end of the animation. However, with the extremely impressive contrast ratio of theâ€™s AMOLED screen, the screen actually appears to be turning off as the image collapses. I demonstrate the animation in the video on the first page of this review (toward the end).
Though the Android Market update isnâ€™t unique to 2.3, I think itâ€™s worth mentioning, at least briefly. Google has done some visual work on the market to better highlight apps and genres of apps. There is also landscape support for the new layout which is nice too.
The latest version of Google Maps looks quite similar to the old, but the underlying system is vastly different. Instead of using static image tiles at varying zoom levels, Maps is now using vector tiles which boast a number of advantages. Vector graphics can be dynamically scaled to any resolution and still retain their sharpness. Now, instead of downloading one tile for each zoom level, you may only have to download one tile for a particular area and then it is scaled to any level of zoom. This means less downloading (less data usage) and easier caching (storing for use later/offline)
Vector graphics also allow the map text to stay right side up even as you rotate the map. Additionally, you can now use two-fingers to tilt the map to get a different angle (again, thanks to vector graphics). And youâ€™ll be able to see 3D buildings in places where itâ€™s supported.
Navigation also now intelligently routes you around traffic.