The first tablet optimized Android operating system is here! At least on video, which we took under close inspection to bring you the future. Ladies and gentlemen, Android 3.0 Honeycomb is official and it is going to end up on a lot of tablets, so read on.
The T-Mobile G-Slate was just one of
CES's many exciting announcements, but what made it special is the
official Google crafted video showcasing the latest of Android for
tablets – Honeycomb. The OS carries a fully redesigned user
interface. The first thing that you will notice is a sense of harmony
and unity within Honeycomb from the unlock swype. The kind of clear and simple harmony you
would want to see on a tablet PC. No visual perks with live
wallpapers (but these may still be available later), but still a nice 3D-esque multiple homescreen view. And let's not forget the widgets, but this all is put together seamlessly and even when switching homescreens you have the feeling of staying in the same ecosystem. Nicely done, Google.
One thing that you will see a lot is the homescreen. Or rather its static top and bottom part. What you get on the top left corner is the Google search tool, where you can do voice or text searches. In the right top corner you will find the Apps menu. A strip of up to eight shortcuts (as per the video) on the bottom part allows you to quickly access essential apps like Gmail, the Calendar, YouTube and Contacts. The main part of the screen is occupied by widgets/photos/contacts. On the bottom part, you will see a back, home and tab switch buttons from the left and the time, your Wi-Fi network and a battery meter on the right.
The Gmail widget stands out with its design and even got its own video. Finally, we are happy to see a rich Gmail experience and we bet many others will be too.
Our guess is that you will have a huge choice of widgets, but the once we saw so far included a Calendar and the Browser.
Browser-centric is the key word for tablets and needless to say this will be one of the most looked at parts of the OS. The demo showed up to four tabs, but it seems tablets with Honeycomb will be able to handle a more content without a hitch. Perfectly desktop-like, we are eager to test how it will perform in real life.
The interface is Chrome-ish, as we guess the browser itself is some version of the Chrome OS browser adapted to do the job, but this is all guess work. The on screen keyboard is large, nicely spaced from what can be seen at the video. Well, we said Chrome and you might remember the Incognito feature – it is implemented to give you a completely private browsing experience should you decide to go under cover for some reason.
Next come the beautiful Maps app that we have seen bring 3D view with the latest update to version 5.0.
The Books app will definitely need a closer look as tablets are entering into the e-reader space quickly. What we can see so far when the app is fired up is a good looking 3D like carousel, where you can browse your books. The Books app also appears as a widget giving you one tap access to your books and judging from the short demo it also stores your last viewed page. Take a look for yourselves!
Finally, any tablet is above all a mobile communication device. Good news is video chat is covered with Gtalk. Check out the official video to see just how easy it is to call through the built-in VoIP client. Quality would largely depend on your front/rear facing cameras, so let's just wait and see as it should not be long before we see more of it. What do you think of Honeycomb? Is it capable of dethroning iOS?