Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” is the latest iteration of the world’s fastest growing mobile operating system. Google and the Android Development team have worked diligently and intelligently to create an operating system optimized for tablets that is both intuitive and robust. As we all know, iOS is running Apple’s Ipad, and Honeycomb is Google’s best attempt to create a mobile operating system for tablets that will be able to compete with Apples iOS on the Ipad.

Honeycomb was designed specifically for tablets. Most recently, Google collaborated with Motorola to optimize the experience, and early reviews indicate the hype is justified. With the Tablet market likely to see 60 million tablets sold in 2011, it’s likely that Honeycomb will be the reason why the Ipad continues to lose marketshare. The Motorola Xoom tablet, the first tablet to be released with Honeycomb, also features some impressive hardware, and should satisfy even the most demanding of users.

Let’s take a closer look at why Android 3.0 Honeycomb might be a suitable, and potentially, superior alternative to iOS 4.

Honeycomb does 3D Beautifully

Honeycomb just feels snappy, and you will see in the video below for yourself. There’s very little, if any, lag, and things flow beautifully. The Xoom has 1GB of RAM, which means you will be able to have numerous tabs in the browser running, and won’t find any noticeable lag.

Google has brought superb 3D functionality to Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Recently, Google showed off Google Maps working with vectors in 3D, which was a marvelous sight to see. The YouTube app also demonstrated the ability for users to interact in 3D too. Google has reassured future users that they have done a lot to ensure 3D works well on the platform. We believe this will bring about substantial changes in how users interact with their information and media.

Furthermore, Android 3.0 will offer support for multicore processor architectures, with a completely new UI as well as support for high-performance 2D and 3D graphics. A built-in GL renderer will let developers request hardware-acceleration of common 2D rendering operations in their apps, across the entire app or only in specific activities or views. This will do wonders for adding rich 3D scenes and will enable developers to take advantage of a new 3D graphics engine called Renderscript.

Similar to the Desktop you already know

Android 3.0 Honeycomb delivers a more desktop like experience than earlier versions of Android. The operating system comes with a System Bar to access OS notifications, status and other important pieces of information. There is also an Action Bar for control over applications. From a design perspective, Honeycomb seems to resemble a traditional operating systems more  than other mobile platforms. While there are no Android Honeycomb Tablets released yet, the above mentioned features of Honeycomb could go a long way in improving productivity.

Keyboard appears responsive, intuitive, and easy to use

One of the biggest issues that people have with tablets, and touch screens in general, is the lack of a physical qwerty keyboard. Old habits die hard, but thanks to some great repositioning, and making the keys substantially larger, the experience has been vastly improved. Apple tried to remedy this by offering up an accessory with a physical keyboard to make the experience less painful with the Ipad, whereas Google, on has done a lot of work improving the on-screen keyboard by modifying placement, size, and positioning them differently. Early hands-on reviews of the keyboard have been overwhelmingly positive. 

The browsing experience is vastly improved

Honeycomb was designed with tablets in mind, the tabs are easy to access and don’t take up much room on the screen. In Honeycomb, you will now be able to sync them with Google Chrome along with other data currently supported by Chrome sync. For those that often switch between devices, this should be a welcome addition. Google has spent considerable time updating the browsing experience in Android 3.0. Users will find a full browser with the ability to open tabs in the same window just as they would on the desktop. Whenever privacy is required, users can run in “Incognito mode” for private browsing.

For those that plan to spend a lot of time on the web, Honeycomb will be a delight to use. The Browser has been revamped, and is becoming more and more like Google Chrome with each release.

What are your thoughts? Is Honeycomb looking like it has the potential to be a worthy alternative to Apple’s iOS?

Check out the video for a great hands on:

Darcy LaCouvee
Darcy is the editor in chief at Android Authority. He follows the latest trends and is extremely passionate about mobile technology. With a keen eye for spotting emerging trends and reporting them, he works hard to bring you the best analysis, updates, and reports on all things Android. Darcy lives and breathes the latest mobile technology, and believes Android will be on a billion devices in the not too distant future.
  • Steve

    Fascinating! These four features do seem to make Honeycomb stand out from iOS. The home screen and browser UI seem elegantly designed and efficient. However, I am still concerned as to whether honeycomb will be compatible with other android devices. Also, if a new version were to come out, would the tablet be able go upgrade to that new tablet OS, or will I have to buy a new android tablet? Still, it looks really nice. I just hope product design and touch screen will be just as good as the iPads.

    • Darcy Alexander

      Hi Steve,

      I would recommend getting a new Android Tablet with Honeycomb already installed. There have been some reports that current popular Android tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, will be getting Android 3.0 Honeycomb, but it will most likely take some time. The tablets that are slated to launch in the coming weeks feature a very impressive hardware set, and significant improvements across the board. They, like the Motorola Xoom, are definitely worth the wait! Honeycomb was designed specifically for tablets, and will certainly receive upgrades in the future. Android 2.3 Gingerbread has just been released, and many Android phones are set to receive this particular update within the coming months. As for the updates and UI improvements featured in Honeycomb, Android 2.4 Ice Cream (for phones) is likely to receive components of it, so there really is a lot to look forward to.