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Honeycomb: Android 3.0 is Incredible

January 27, 2011

As we all know, Google has made a strong effort to keep a tight wrap on Honeycomb. Honeycomb is the groundbreaking, latest and greatest version of Android designed specifically to work on tablet computers. It features significant leaps forward in interfacing, user experience (UX), and a substantially smoother User Interface, thanks to hardware acceleration and multicore support.

Other Cool Things About Honeycomb:

  • It has gesture activated multi-tasking, which means need to press physical buttons
  • It has much better hardware support that results in better 3D performance
  • It has a much more customizable OS
  • It’s newer, like not even out yet
  • A “Holographic” Interface
First it was flashed briefly at CES by Android chief Andy Rubin at the D8 conference. At CES, Motorola was bestowed the esteemed honor of being able to give it a more public showing via its upcoming Xoom tablet.

Thankfully, on Wednesday, Android 3.0 finally saw full daylight. Google finally released the latest Software Development Kit, handing giving App makers the tools they need to start building programs. The SDK now includes the user interface – which Google describes as “holographic” – that makes Honeycomb tablet-friendly.

Xavier Ducrohet, the tech lead on the Android SDK, ticked off the most important new features:

UI framework for creating great apps for larger screen devices:

  • Developers can use a new UI components including:
    • new themes
    • richer widgets
    • newly designed and customizable notifications
    • drag and drop
    • and other new features to create rich and engaging apps for users on larger screen devices.

High-performance 2D and 3D graphics

  • A new property-based animation framework that lets developers add great visual effects to their apps
  • A built-in GL renderer that lets developers request hardware-acceleration of common 2D rendering operations in their apps, across the entire app or only in specific activities or views.
  • Adds rich 3D scenes, and allows developers take advantage of a new 3D graphics engine called Renderscript.
  • Support for multicore processor architectures: Android 3.0 is optimized to run on either single- or dual-core processors, so that applications run with the best possible performance.

Rich multimedia:

  • New multimedia features such as HTTP Live streaming support, a pluggable DRM framework, and easy media file transfer through MTP/PTP, give developers new ways to bring rich content to users.
  • New types of connectivity: New APIs for Bluetooth A2DP and HSP let applications offer audio streaming and headset control. Support for Bluetooth insecure socket connection lets applications connect to simple devices that may not have a user interface

Enhancements for enterprise:

  • New administrative policies, such as for encrypted storage and password expiration, help enterprise administrators manage devices more effectively.
  • Those tidbits are intriguing for developers. Of course, what most users want to know is this: What does the interface look like? Is it easy to use on a tablet? And just how cool is it?

I personally got to see Honeycomb on the Xoom at CES and was very impressed. What it truly represents is the ultimate evolution of Android, optimized for Tablets. It will be a huge step forward in how we interact with the information that is most important to us. It takes the best elements of the current Android interface, blends them with Palm’s webOS, and incorporates the cool, tiled look of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.

Google has publicly stated that Android’s current interface really isn’t suited to tablet use. We couldn’t agree more. Honeycomb will undoubtedly be worth the wait, and, really, it’s not that much more of a wait.

But now, you can see for yourself. Google has released a series of gorgeous screen shots of the Honeycomb UI. To me, they look worth waiting for. You can find them after the jump.

Here’s the main Honeycomb home screen, with expanded widgets and a very tablet-friendly interface. Note the cascading video tiles in the right corner.


You can customize the home screens in a variety of new ways.


Widgets can have more capabilities, and obviously can display much larger.


Here’s a look at the Web browser.


The copy paste process has been improved, and obviously the keyboard is going to be a lot bigger.


You’ll have more information about running tasks, and managing them should be simpler.


Here’s the camera app.


What do you think? Do these images make you want a Honeycomb tablet? How badly?