Android 3.0 will be released to handset makers / developers on or about October 15/16. The first handsets to run Android 3.0 aren't expected to hit the market until just in the nick of time for the holiday shopping season.
What's really interesting is that apparently there will be minimum hardware requirements for handsets to properly operate with Android 3.0. The handsets must be equipped with a 1GHz processor, for starters. They will also need at least 512MB of RAM and a display of at least 3.5 inches. That sounds as though Google wants to make the user experience of Android handsets more uniform across brands and devices.
Android 3.0 will support displays with 1280 x 760 resolution once the displays pass 4 inches in size. That's a serious HD-quality display requirement. Does Google want the video and gaming experiences to be better moving forward?
Android 3.0 will also have a completely refreshed user interface. According to UnwiredView, the new UI will resemble the Cooliris-made photo gallery application that's on the Nexus One. It will feature animated transitions between apps and screens.
Google has hired Palm's former webOS user interface designer. His new position at Google is with the Android user experience team. Let's hope some of his ideas make it into Android 3.0.
With Android 3.0, there will be a split in Android. Lower-end devices will be stuck Android 2.1 or 2.2. Android 3.0 and up will be reserved for high-end super phones.
None of this information has been confirmed by Google, though at its I/O conference, Google did say that exciting things were in store for Android. Android 3.0 will likely be the last major update for the Android platform for the next six to nine months. Google has said it plans to slow down the development cycle to one major release per year. Given that 2010 has already seen Android 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2, I'd say it is safe to say that Android 3.0 will set the bar pretty high for the next year to come.