Just over a month ago, we saw the announcement and demonstration of not only the new Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but also its successor – Android 3.0 Honeycomb, which was designed specifically for tablets (while still being compatible with smartphones, of course). Not only that, but the new OS was demonstrated on the Motorola Xoom – a very nice dual core tablet with a 10 inch screen that is set on beating the iPad at its own game.
We’re still a few months away from seeing the actual final version of Android 3.0, but Google has already released a demo video and a few statements about what it will entail and what improvements and new features will come with it. I am personally excited about them, as this will be the biggest change Android has been through since the 2.0 version and will bring a lot of new stuff for the users and developers alike.
A new interface and API for tablets, lots of improvements in the visual area
The most important change is the addition of a completely new API for the tablet user interface, which itself has been designed from scratch to give users the best experience possible. Developers will now be able to design 2 versions of the graphical interface for their apps: one for tablets and one for smartphones. And unlike the iPad, the changes in the tablet UI are more significant and different than the smartphone version. The new interface will take full advantage of bigger resolutions and screen sizes, giving users the ability to be as effective as possible.
A lot of Android’s features have also been revamped and polished to perfection. The multi-tasking has been refined and improved, giving apps more freedom and time to run in the background on powerful machines, while still retaining the option for stricter control. The notifications are now more elegant and beautiful, with a lot of nice 3D effects everywhere, including the screen widgets. Speaking of widgets: they now have better live notification abilities, kind of like Windows Phone 7 and as you can see from the first demo video, it’s easier to manage them on tablets (and most probably on smartphones, as well).
One eye candy for Android 3.0 honeycomb is the improved use of accelerometer and gyroscope features to present the user with a more “holographic” and 3D-like interface, which moves around depending on how you hold and move the tablet/smartphone. You’ve seen this in the Labyrinth game and Gallery app on Android 2.2, but those are just early prototypes in comparison to what Android 3.0 will offer in this area.
Lack of hardware navigation buttons and better support for dual core processors
Another important change in the new version of Android is the lack of need for external navigation buttons. This is great for a couple of reasons, the main ones being the ability for manufacturers to use equally thin borders on all sides of a device (like the Motorola Xoom tablet) and the ability to pick up a tablet or smartphone however you want and getting to work immediately. There is also the useful fact that you’ll no longer accidentally click those touch buttons below the screen when you pick up the device or want to reach the notification bar on your 4.3 inch display.
Android 3.0 will also have better support for dual core processors, according to various sources, which is pretty much a must, because the era of dual core CPUs for smartphones and tablets is already here. Along with that, Android Honeycomb will be able to more effectively use 3D graphics adapters (like the GeForce in the Tegra 2 SoC) and hardware decoders/encoders for a smoother entertainment experience.
Of course, this is just the beginning of the awesomeness that the new Android 3.0 will bring, seeing that it’s still in early development, but we’ll see the final product in early spring. Until then, we can wait and pray that it turns out as good as they make it out to be .