Google Delays Honeycomb Delivery to Open Source

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-03-26 Print this article Print

title=Google Delays Open-sourcing Honeycomb}

There's no reason to doubt Google will release Honeycomb to open source eventually, but the confirmation that the platform requires more work before it can be used for other devices fuels speculation that the OS was released too early from the jump.

Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdry criticized Honeycomb in a research note earlier this month for being buggy and feeling unfinished on Motorola Mobility's Xoom, the first tablet to carry Honeycomb.

Chowdry relied on anecdotes from early users for his report, which was widely blasted by users who found the OS locked up, froze or crashed on the Xooms they purchased.

eWEEK experienced no such flaws in its own extensive testing of the Xoom. However, eWEEK tested the Xoom before Flash was made available on it. Perhaps the bugs users encountered were related to trying to access Flash-supported content.

Delaying an OS build to get it right is certainly Google's prerogative, but it won't do anything to assuage critics who have long felt Google erred by letting the platform become so fragmented. The smartphone-oriented OS is split in a handful of versions and counting.  

The smartphone-flavored OS should see another build later this spring when Android 2.4, called either "Ice Cream" or "Ice Cream Sandwich," arrives to the market.

This is allegedly a hybridized version of the OS that will incorporate some of the features of Honeycomb, according to Google Android Engineering Director Dave Burke.

Burke said Ice Cream would likely bring Honeycomb's "action bar," which provides contextual buttons to act on whatever is on the screen at the moment, to phones. The action bar is geared to supplant the "press and hold" gesture, which will be phased out, except for drag-and-drop operations.

Also, the new, graphical "Hologram" style of Honeycomb will come to phones, as will the multi-tasking application switcher that shows a small view of each application running, Burke said.

Expect Ice Cream, or Ice Cream Sandwich, to ship at or around the timeframe of Google's I/O show in May.




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