Much like the stock camera interface of previous versions of Android, there isn’t anything particularly advantageous with the one for Honeycomb. Naturally, a good portion of the interface is reserved for the view finder, but it’s surprising to see that Google decided to leave out something like touch focus. Nevertheless, most of the controls are located on the right side of the interface as a large dial mainly dominates the area. Using your thumb, you have quick access in changing the flash mode, white balance, color effect, scene mode, and camera setting. Additionally, we find the“-“ and “+” buttons on there as well to give you access to up to 8x digital zoom. And finally, switching between video and camera mode is easily executed by pressing the associated toggle in the bottom right area – and that’s where we also find the button to switch to the front facing camera as well.
Although there are few available options with the flash, white balance, and color effects, there is an extraordinary amount for the scene mode – these include things like auto, action, portrait, landscape, night, theatre, beach, snow, sunset, steady photo, fireworks, and night portrait. And under the camera settings, you’re presented access to changing the focus mode, exposure, picture size, and picture quality.
As for snapping shots, you simply press on the on-screen shutter key; which kicks on the focus. And when the toggle in the view finder turns green, you release your finger from the shutter key to capture the shot. Simple enough! Once you’ve got it, there is a three second delay before you’re ready to shoot another picture – with the most recent one being displayed in the preview window on the view finder.
Running the Gallery App, the first thing to capture our eyes is its 3D like stacking effect that makes it seem like folders are stacked up top of one another. Once you make a selection, it’ll display all the content of the folder into a grid-like view that is scrollable from left to right. When you’re viewing a photos, you can swipe left and right to see some additional ones, but you’ve also got pinch gestures to zoom in.
Sharing specific items is easily done by pressing the sharing icon in the Action Bar – which allows you to send photos to Picasa, Bluetooth, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, and regular Email. Regretfully, there are only a limited set of editing tools on-board with it – such as rotating and cropping only.
Previous Android music players lacked any eye candy to rival some of the glitzy effects shown off by Apple’s Cover Flow mode, but definitely refreshing, we finally see a major overhaul with the Honeycomb music player. When you select the “New and recent” option in the Action Bar of the music player, we’re greeted with a fancy looking 3D carousel that enables you to smoothly browse through all your albums. Clearly a nice touch to its presentation, it doesn’t stop there because we’re transported to a grid like view with all the album covers when the “Albums” and “Artist” options are selected from the Action Bar. Obviously, you can scroll up and down, but we adore the articulating movement of the interface as you tilt the tablet.
When a song is actually playing, it displays all the items we’re normally accustomed to seeing at this point – like the album cover, track information, and on-screen controls. But if you happen to go back to the homescreen or something else, an icon of the mini player will show up in the Notifications Panel. Pressing on it, it’ll pop up the actual mini player with controls like reverse, pause/play, and forward available to you. Without a doubt we’re more than satisfied with the updated presentation, but it would’ve been nice to see some other fancy looking visualizations or equalizer settings.
Not necessarily something we’d expect to don some kind of new look, but the video player pretty much sticks with the usual approach with its functionality and presentation. When videos are playing, which can be done in either orientations, you have a single button in the middle to play or pause it – plus you’ve got a toggle in the time line that you can move to specific areas.
Video editing buffs will surely appreciate the basic set of tools available to them with the Movie Studio app with Honeycomb. Sure it’s no professional grade software, but it nonetheless enables you to quickly compose a reasonably passable edited video on the go. The interface is probably more familiar to those who have played around with other video editing software, but it can prove to be daunting for other novice users.
At the bottom of the interface, you’ve got the time line, while on the left and right sides, we find specific controls to pause, play, reverse, forward, and a knob that precisely gets you to a specific time frame. From here, you can throw in content, either photos, videos, or music, by pressing the associated buttons in the Action Bar. And if you want to throw in some kind of titles, effects, or transitions, you essentially have to long press an area in the time line where you want it to happen.
Once you’re content with the all the edits and deem it as a masterpiece, you can export the video and watch your creation.
Hands down, the YouTube client with Honeycomb is by far our favorite amongst anything else out there. Not only do we find its interface adept at providing relevant content, but it’s layout is structured to perfectly encompass a wide array of functions like commenting, liking, sharing and searching videos. Moreover, we’re given the option to play a video in either standard or high quality – and it’s totally independent of what kind of data connection we have. Finally, we find the new grid-like carousel of its presentation intuitive as it aggregates some of the most recent content associated with our subscriptions.
Being the Google product it is, there is no denying that plenty of love is placed with Google Maps. In fact, we experience all the wonderful set of features that have made the app become one of the most widely used for any Android users out there. From 3D views to free voice guided turn-by-turn directions, there is a substantial amount of useful features offered by the app. Although the bulk of the interface is reserved for the map, specific functions pop up in separate windows to always give you focus on what you’re looking at on the map.
Aside from being able to instant message your Google Talk buddies, we find video chat implemented with the app now. As long as you see that camera icons alongside the names of your buddies in Google Talk, you’ll be able to video chat with them over your data connection. In our test, we used it over a 3G connection, and we have to say that it’s a respectable experience since voices were mainly clear – although video is a on the pixelated side of things.