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Android 3.0 due, but what will it bring?

Google's Gingerbread - the internal codename for Android 3.0 - is rumoured to be just around the corner, but for the sake of the company's customers it had better be something special.

There's no denying that Google's Android has been a smashing success - coming out of nowhere to give industry giants RIM, Microsoft, and Apple cause for concern and carving a major chunk of the mobile market out for itself. Likewise, there's no getting away from the fact that each revision of the software offers incremental and much-welcomed improvements - culminating in Android 2.2, which brings wireless tethering, Flash support, and the ability to copy certain applications to the SD card to the table.

However, the mobile marketplace is changing. Everyone's bored of smartphones now, and the new buzzword is tablets - or 'slates,' if you're down with the lingo. Apple's iPad changed the face of mobile computing, and now everyone's playing catch-up - not least of all the Android device manufacturers.

We've seen many attempts at creating iPad-killers based around Google's mobile platform, and every single one has fallen short - some, admittedly, more than others. With rumours circulating that major manufacturers are holding off releasing devices until the software is up to scratch, Google needs to start focusing on tablets in Android 3.0 if it wants to keep its customers happy.

The company is playing its cards close to its chest with this release, but some rumours have leaked. Reports of a specialised tablet edition have done the rounds, along with an end to the days of manufacturers offering custom UIs in order to attempt to address the fragmentation between devices.

With LG counted amongst those waiting for Gingerbread, having told press that it is "in talks with Google to decide on the most suitable version for our tablet and that is not Froyo 2.2," the next few weeks could prove very interesting for all concerned.

The latest rumour on the Gingerbread bandwagon comes courtesy of an unnamed source who told AndroidPolice that the software development kit for Android 3.0 is due next week - with the source code for the Android Open Source Project due a few weeks after that. If true, it will afford an insight into whether Google is truly chasing Apple headlong into the tablet market as rumours suggest, or whether it's going its own way with this release.

With manufacturers waiting anxiously to unleash their Android-powered tablets on the market, it's a tense time for the still-young platform.