The next version of Google's smartphone operating system, Android 3.0, is just around the corner and the folks over at Phandroid have managed to obtain some new details on the forthcoming update. As you might already know, the "Froyo" successor is codenamed "Gingerbread" and should focus heavily on an improved user experience, which Google hopes will enable it to bring smartphone vendors into a more unified UI.

Most of the visual changes to Gingerbread are quite subtle, according to Phandroid. Icons have been redesigned to give a more uniform appearance, while the notification bar gets a "warm slate grey" color and the overall aesthetic has a more uniform feel to it - that includes revamping standard apps like YouTube to make them look and feel more integrated with the OS. Apparently the idea is to eventually eliminate the need for manufacturers to create their own overlays, like Sense or Motoblur, so users won't have to face long waits for manufacturers to rollout their updates.

Although manufacturers aren't likely to drop their Android skins anytime soon, some rumors suggest Google might opt for another workaround to the problem of fragmentation, which is to decouple many of Android's standard applications and components from the platform's core and making them downloadable and updatable through the Market.

Gingerbread is not expected to offer as many new features as Froyo. However, it won't be all about the visuals either, as Google reportedly has plans to add support for video chat and Wi-Fi calling. It's also been rumored that the company would be implementing additional hardware acceleration into Gingerbread, though this hasn't been confirmed yet. The update was originally slated for a Q4 2010 release, but it may be pushed to the first part of next year instead.