Google Android 3.0 'Honeycomb': 10 Things You Should Know

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-02-04

Google Android 3.0 'Honeycomb': 10 Things You Should Know

Android 3.0 "Honeycomb," the latest version of the fast-growing mobile operating system, is Google's best answer yet to iOS running on Apple's iPad. That view was immediately apparent from the much-anticipated demonstration of Honeycomb on Feb. 2 at the Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. 

Honeycomb was designed specifically with tablets in mind. In fact, the platform will be running on the Motorola Xoom tablet as well as several other Android-based slates as 2011 unfolds. 

But as more and more details emerge about Android 3.0 Honeycomb, the time has come for consumers, enterprise customers and all other parties to determine how the operating system will appeal to them in the coming months. The only way to do that is to get a full glimpse into what Android 3.0 Honeycomb will offer and why it might be a suitable replacement for iOS 4. 

Read on to find out some of the key aspects of Android 3.0 Honeycomb that everyone should know. 

1. It's serious about 3D 

Google has brought 3D functionality to Android 3.0 Honeycomb. At the event on Feb. 2, Google showed off Maps working with 3D, as well as the ability for users to interact with 3D in the company's YouTube app. Google reassured users that the company has done quite a bit to ensure 3D works well on the platform. That's a major step for the mobile space. It could usher in big changes in the marketplace. 

2. It's more desktoplike than some think 

Android 3.0 Honeycomb delivers a more desktoplike experience than earlier versions of Android. The operating system comes with a System Bar to access OS notifications, status and other important tidbits of information. It also has an Action Bar for control over applications. From a design perspective, Honeycomb seems to resemble more traditional operating systems than do other mobile platforms. Whether or not that will appeal to customers in practice remains to be seen, but it could go a long way in improving productivity. 

3. The browsing experience is vastly improved 

Google has spent considerable time updating the browsing experience in Android 3.0. Users will find a full browser with the ability to open tabs in the same window just as they would on the desktop. They can also run Chrome in Incognito mode for private browsing. The platform's browser even supports the ability for users to share their bookmarks between their tablets and PCs running Chrome. 

4. All signs point to a better keyboard 

One of the biggest issues with tablets is the fact that trying to type on their virtual keyboards has been a chore. Apple offered up an accessory with a physical keyboard to make the experience less painful with the iPad. Google, on the other hand, has done quite a bit of work on its keyboard by modifying the keys, repositioning them and generally making the keyboard utilize the bigger screens on tablets. Best of all for the company, early hands-on looks at the platform's keyboard have been glowing. 

Developers Finding Much to Like in Honeycomb


5. It'll be on the best Android tablets 

The best part of Android 3.0 Honeycomb for consumers is that the operating system will be ushering in Google's best attempt to take on Apple in the tablet space. It will be running on the vast majority of upcoming Android-based tablets this year and will most notably be available on the Motorola Xoom. That device, which boasts a 10.1-inch display, is expected to be the best competitor to Apple's iPad in 2011. 

6. It's focused on tablets 

Google designed Android 3.0 Honeycomb first and foremost for tablets. The platform's virtual keyboard was especially designed with larger tablet screen sizes in mind. That doesn't mean that much of its functionality won't come to smartphones in the coming months. But at least for now, the features Android 3.0 brings to the table will likely work most effectively on tablets. 

7. The camera app is vastly improved 

One of the biggest problems with Android-based devices is that the camera software's interface is somewhat clunky, which makes photo taking more difficult than it should be. But Google showed off a new user interface for taking pictures that streamlines the process in Honeycomb. Users are able to choose their flash mode and have several other customization options to get more from cameras. It's a welcome addition. 

8. Google is taking aim at iOS 

Google realizes that in order for its platform to continue to enjoy strong growth both in the smartphone and tablet markets, it needs to find ways to trump Apple's iOS mobile operating system. At least right now, it looks like Android 3.0 Honeycomb is well on its way to doing that. It features a refined user interface, a host of options Android users haven't seen before, and perhaps most importantly, several improvements over what folks have become accustomed to with iOS. The browsing experience alone might be enough for users to opt for Android 3.0-based tablets over the iPad. 

9. The developers are excited about it 

So far it looks like developers are quite happy to see what Google has created with Android 3.0 Honeycomb. As mentioned, the many changes Google made to the platform offer several opportunities for developers to do more than they previously have with Android. The platform's inclusion of new widgets, which offer developers more options to add features, could make applications developed for Android even more appealing than those running on iOS. The operating system's Action Bar should also come in handy for developers who want to add contextual options on the screen. Simply put, developers are getting excited about Android 3.0 Honeycomb-and for good reason. 

10. It could be a game-changer 

Android 3.0 Honeycomb could be extremely important to the future of the tablet business. The platform is already shaping up to be groundbreaking in terms of what it will offer consumers. If it works as well as Google and some folks who have tried it say that it does, then it could put Apple on notice that in order to compete, it too will need to push the envelope. It's an exciting time for consumers and even enterprise customers. Android 3.0 Honeycomb could usher in a whole new era of design and functionality in the mobile market.

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