Google has announced the official launch of its latest Android OS, version 2.3, on Monday evening.

The new Samsung Nexus S will be available in shops in the UK and the US before Christmas and be powered by Android 2.3, the companies concerned have confirmed.

According to Google, Android 2.3, Gingerbread, is the fastest version of its operating system yet.

It features support for Near Field Communication (NFC), a new and improved keyboard with multi-touch support, Internet calling (VoIP/SIP support) and a clean new user interface.

The Nexus S also includes popular Android features such as portable Wi-Fi hotspot, true multitasking, access to Google mobile services (such as Google Search, Gmail, and Google Maps with Navigation), Voice Actions, Google Voice and YouTube, and access to over 100,000 apps and widgets on Android Market.

Other features include the ability for any application to now make use of any cameras that are available on a device, for either photo or video capture.