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.