Why Android Matters: Gingerbread, Ice Cream, Honeycomb and More!

by: Darcy LaCouveeJanuary 16, 2011

In the past several weeks we have had the privilege of seeing the future. We have seen some of the most significant developments in mobile technology and in Android development the world has ever witnessed. We already know that a number of significant changes can be expected, and they will only serve to accelerate adoption of Android world wide.

The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show was packed with a seemingly unlimited amount of new gadgets. By far the biggest news for Android fans were the announcements of the Dual-Core Motorola Atrix and Motorola’s Xoom Tegra 2 Tablet with Android 3.0 Honeycomb. We are extremely eager to get our hands on Honeycomb as soon as we can in early March.

Google is an absolutely remarkable company. With a stock price over $600, it’s hard to believe that this company is basically only a decade old. They have been highly strategic in their approach to being the leader of the Internet, and have pioneered into previously uncharted territory with excellent planning, foresight and execution. While their execution hasn’t been flawless in every respect, they certainly have demonstrated a keen ability to learn from their mistakes, their competitors’ shortcomings, and launch products and services that are better than anything else available.

Not too long ago, Google made the extremely wise decision to hire Palm’s Matias Duarte, an industry veteran in mobile UI design. We at Android Authority have been paying close attention to this development, and are very enthusiastic about the changes coming in the highly anticipated Honeycomb. We have seen firsthand that the UI developments are substantial, and will blow users away. March really can’t come soon enough.
The rapid ascent of the Android platform has been staggering in 2010. Android has now overtaken the Iphone OS in nearly every respect. Some market research indicates that many people still consider Android to be somewhat complicated, but they can always opt to be part of the Iphone herd. Clearly the world wants choice, and will not settle for a closed system with limited diversity of phones and software. The emergent theme is that the open and ever-changing nature of the Android operating system, coupled with the constant competition of multiple handset makers, and the absence of any restriction on software publishing will inevitably make Android the dominant Smartphone and Tablet platform of the future.

We can see that the same analogy allowed Windows to flourish and become the dominant operating system worldwide. Having a minimally restrictive operating system that functions on a near unlimited amount of hardware will make Android the de facto operating system of the future.

There will be more Android devices in the future than iPhone OS devices

Android is based on the Linux kernel which already powers an unimaginable range of computers and devices. Google has worked hard to provide an excellent foundation of rich communication and a great user interface layer to help bolster the creativity and efforts of developer worldwide. We can expect Android to power everything from phones to tablet computers but also in-car media, thermostats, refrigerators and potentially anything. Of course the idea of true digital convergence comes to mind, and is very likely within reach when you consider all the amazing possibilities.
Of course, there is also the prevailing argument that Android is already too fragmented for such a thing to occur, but we beg to differ. Android, as we can see, is already splitting from Gingerbread Android 2.3/ Ice Cream Android 2.4 to Honeycomb Android 3.0. We have already uncovered reports that Smartphones will receive the same Honeycomb treatment in very short time.

When first showing off Honeycomb and the Motorola Xoom tablet at an All Things Digital mobile conference last month, Google Android chief Andy Rubin was careful to avoid describing Honeycomb as a tablet-only OS. During the session, reporter Walt Mossberg asked Rubin whether Honeycomb was “just a version of Android that happens to work well on tablets” or “a tablet version of Android.” Rubin’s response: “It’s both, I would say.” Great!

Tim O’Reilly, arguably one of the most prescient technology observers, effectively suggested that it is not Apple vs. Google but rather Apple vs. the web. In today’s interconnected information environment, controlling the data (i.e. Google) is more important than controlling the device (i.e. Apple).
Google will undoubtedly remain the dominant information platform/storehouse for the foreseeable future. However, new companies will continue to impress with compelling data in their sectors, such as Yelp for restaurant and vendor reviews, IMDb for movies, Twitter for social networking, and so forth.


  • Competition is a wonderful thing and only benefits the users and consumers involved
  • Google is a very, very smart company
  • Android is better than anything Apple could ever hope to produce
  • Android is still young, and will mature very nicely
  • Honeycomb is the future of Android, and will work on Smartphones too

History does not quite repeat itself, but does reverberate. Both Apple and Google will flourish and we, the consumers, will benefit.

For starters, there’s a brand new art direction coming to Android; with Honeycomb, we can see a clear shift to a futuristic, ‘authentically digital’ aesthetic, reminiscent of futuristic art. The new gesture action for unlocking a Honeycomb device involves a glowing circle in the center of the screen.  

Currently, Android phones and tablets depend on physical buttons that are fixed into the hardware – Home, Search, Back, and Menu. In a few months, we’ll start to see devices without hardware buttons, as Honeycomb will have a Windows-like ‘taskbar’ with Home, Back, and Menu buttons displayed on the touchscreen.

The tablet build of Honeycomb features so many improvements it is staggering. We have already seen a new dedicated Gmail widget, and a very aesthetically pleasing calendar view that allows you to scroll through calendar events from the home screen. Especially impressive is the new 3D panoramic YouTube app and  a powerful new Chrome-like web browser. The new and improved touchscreen keyboard is going to increase productivity by leaps and bounds, and the new integration of GTalk video chat coupled with an incredibly elegant multitasking solution will allow users to see what apps are running at every available moment.

Honeycomb looks simply stunning. At this point, it’s hard to say how many of these incredible refinements will make it into the phone version of Honeycomb. What is clear is that Google is putting everything they have into making Android a more consumer-friendly OS that will scale beautifully with a variety of tablet screen sizes. The fact that Honeycomb will only serve to foster incredible competition and enable electronics makers to produce quality tablets is a very compelling prospect indeed. Based on what we witnessed at CES, 2011 is going to see a massive army of iPad-hunting Honeycomb tablets.

Stay tuned for the latest and greatest Android updates here at Android Authority!

  • Hawk

    Just traded my BB Storm for a Verizon Fantastic (Android 2.1). Very nice phone. I’m onboard with Android for a while at least.

    BUT… there is frustration brewing among the early adopters of Android phones. Promises of updates to latest versions of Android OS fell oh, so sweetly and encouragingly from the lips of phone sales people everywhere. HOWEVER, the reality of this subject has been ABSOLUTE DISAPPOINTMENT to say the least. Promises not kept! And customers with long memories! Not a good sign for Google.

    IMHO, Google, Samsung and Verizon (among others that don’t directly affect my Fascinate phone) should jointly commit more resources (and get results) in the area of updating existing Android phones. I’ll not speculate who’s ‘fault’ it is. But if the delays continue this WILL serve as a significant damper to the growth of the Android OS. The very people who these delays are affecting most are the very ones needed to stimulate future interest in Google’s growth in this arena. P1$$ this group off enough and all you’re going to accomplish is to open the door for some other enterprising entrepreneur to jump in and fill the void.

    I can almost see it from my porch! LOL

  • Hawk Response

    OS updates cannot be do “automatically”. Check your manufacturers website and find the latest OS for your system. follow the instructions on how to update. Most have release FroYo (Android OS 2.2)

  • Dontusethis

    Hawk Response #2:

    Hawk Response #1 looks like a typical “solution” from one of those free Tech Support web sites: not related to your post and typically not focused on the task but reiterating broad “solutions” that often involve many hours of fruitless system reinstallations and trouble shooting tasks that have no real bearing on the problem. Once one of those ridiculous posts appear, your thread is lost forever as everyone else can now see it has been: “RESOLVED” by someone else. Unfortunately, many large hardware manufacturers are now using this model for their “technical support”. The last several laptops I bought have what I would qualify as NO SUPPORT. I rarely will need to consult support and over the past decade have only needed to because of legitimate bugs and defects in the products I (or my clients) have purchased. Invariably I’ll waste three hours minimally for them to finally convince me they have nobody that can understand the problem because it’s not in their solution logic chart. Unfortunately, if I have a problem that requires me contacting the manufacturer, it’s because I’m truly in a situation with a defect in the product and am really just trying to verify that I’m not missing something. Consequently, NO, of course there isn’t a path to a solution in their flow charts. I try to be friendly and bid them a wonderful day. My last experience has been with Lenovo. The only problem I have is that their web site has never accepted my user name and password that I registered with. So 4 phone calls, 3 hours, and 8 months with 4 promises that it’s resolved and no progress has been made. And that’s just so I can get on the site to post a question in an email rather than enduring the hours on the phone it takes for them to expound on the lack of support and knowledge for their products. And the user guides for this laptop? HA! Not even close to being acceptable for an 8 year old’s class project. It’s so incomplete it’s pathetically hilarious. It’s not wrong, though. It has no incorrect instruction, description, or wording. It can’t be: there’s virtually nothing in it! Oh well, what do you expect for $800 nowadays, right? My mistake was in being behind the times and thinking that Lenovo was IBM. My bad. I now know………….