Finding ourselves for the very first time at the homescreen of Honeycomb, it instantly reminded us of the world of TRON. Much like the computer generated atmosphere of TRON, we find many aspects of Honeycomb employing these lighted borders and blurring effects to give off that other worldly feel with its interface. Definitely eye catching indeed, we’re presented with 5 home screens to fill their void with an abundant set of items – which is very much Android like. Naturally, there’s plenty of personalization found with Honeycomb as it boasts a decent set of widgets, wallpapers, shortcuts, and others to choose from. Aside from the healthy amount of static wallpapers offered right off the bat, we find very few live wallpapers that are specifically created for the new platform.
Widgets of course have become a standard thing with Android as a whole, but even though there are some interactive ones available, like the Gmail or bookmarks widgets, we’re only treated to a single Honeycomb clock widget. Fortunately though, they don’t take up a huge chunk of real estate and still give you enough leeway without making it look too cluttered. We also like how some of them provide specific core functions, like being able to quickly scroll through emails with the Gmail widget, without having to directly launch the app.
At the bottom of the interface, we now find a System Bar that is always present in every orientation or app that you run – and it’s also the place where we find the customary set of Android buttons. These include things like the Back, Home, and Menu buttons – the latter of which only pops up with certain apps. Additionally, we now find a Recent Apps button placed on there as well that instantly displays thumbnails of some of the most recent apps that have been running. Much like performing a long press of the home button with an Android smartphone, the Recent Apps button allows you to juggle around different things; thus being a great tool for any productive individuals out there.
Instead of finding Notifications Panel lining up the top area of the interface, it’s now positioned in the lower right section of the System Bar – which is very much Windows like. In fact, we find the digital clock always here, and when it’s pressed, it’ll allow you to get access to the usual Android settings. If you happen to get a notification, it’ll briefly appear as a window in the Notifications Panel – which is definitely not obtrusive at all. However, if you choose to ignore the notification, it’ll end up being displayed as an icon in the Notifications Panel.
Notifications panel in the lower right
The System Bar is in the bottom of the screen
Depending on what you’re doing, the Action Bar will offer you specific functions that are tied together with the app you’re running – and it is positioned at the very top edge of the interface. On the homescreen, we’re presented with Google Search and Voice Search in the upper left corner, while the buttons for the Apps Panel and personalization are found in the upper right. But if you’re running something like the web browser, it’ll transform and give you the address bar, navigation controls, and others.
Unfortunately, the Apps Panel hasn’t received any visual upgrade with Honeycomb seeing that it simply resorts to sticking with the usual grid-like view with no 3D looking effects aside from the transition effect that runs initially. Still, icons will accumulate and you’ll have to swipe left and right in order to traverse between all your apps.
Sure we might have been somewhat overwhelmed at first with the new layout of Android, but after poking around for a few minutes, we realized that it still embodies all the lovable aspects we’ve come to appreciate with the platform. Meanwhile, the visual presentation is definitely invigorating to separate it from previous versions, but underneath it all, we’re still presented with the core foundations of Android. Moreover, the notifications system has been retooled to better suit the tablet experience and its implementation is well executed.