HTC's Flyer tablet will run Android 2.4 rather than Android 3.0 in the second quarter. Analysts say HTC Sense is likely the reason Honeycomb got the pass for the Motorola Xoom rival.
Few people following tablets were surprised when HTC
the HTC Flyer, a
7-inch tablet to compete
with Apple's iPad, Samsung's Galaxy Tab lineup, and the
Motorola Xoom at Mobile World Congress Feb. 15.
It's HTC's platform choice to power the
device that has triggered head-scratching
among some tech watchers. While tablets such
as the Xoom and Galaxy Tab 10.1 will run Google's tablet-friendly Android 3.0
operating system, HTC said the Flyer will
run a hybrid version of Android 2.4 and be powered by a 1.5 GHz processor.
HTC spokespeople declined to respond to eWEEK
's request for comment on why
Android 2.4 was picked over the logical Android 3.0 build.
HTC's choice is a bold one, considering
Samsung was lambasted for putting Android 2.2 on its first Galaxy Tab. Android
3.0-which Google showed off
on a Xoom first at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show,
in January, and then earlier this month at its headquarters-is tailored to
optimize the Android experience on tablets.
Honeycomb, as Android 3.0 is nick-named, was rebuilt from the ground up for
tablets, offering whiz-bang graphical elements and apps layered like stacked
Honeycomb also facilitates 3D graphics for gaming, which is a popular tablet
draw. The new Google Maps 5.0 for Android, with its 3D building rendering, is a
sight to behold on the Xoom.
Slated to launch in the second quarter, the Flyer will also feature a 3D
home screen with a carousel of widgets, thanks to a version
of the smartphone maker's HTC
Sense user interface tailored for tablets.
Users will able be able to access the tablet through touch gestures, as well
as a stylus to leverage HTC's Scribe
technology for note-taking. The device is also powered by a 1.5 GHz processor.
Independent industry analyst Jack Gold said that while the fact that the
Flyer doesn't run Honeycomb might appear to be a step backwards, HTC's
case is a little different.
"HTC supplements Android with its
Sense UI anyway, so the underlying code is less critical than for those vendors
who ship straight Android," Gold explained.
"And it's likely that HTC added a
number of features/functions that make the experience better than straight
Android, just like it does on its phones that run the Sense interface. So in
this case, running Android 2.4 under the covers may not be that much of a
Even so, prospective Flyer buyers who have seen Honeycomb in action might
expect HTC to offer an upgrade path for the
device once its Sense interface is running on top of Honeycomb.
Of course, Honeycomb will likely appear on future HTC
tablets. HTC's Peter Chou indicated
at Mobile World Congress that the company could
introduce tablets with larger form factors, leaving open the possibility that a
larger HTC Honeycomb tablet is forthcoming
later this year.
Meanwhile, Google has made little information about Android 2.4 public,
though there is talk that this OS build will be released at Google I/O, in May.
it is offering a ViewPad 4 smartphone based on Android
2.4 this spring. Company sources have said the chief difference between Android
2.3 and Android 2.4 is that Android 2.4 supports dual-core applications.