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Google Reveals Details Of Android Honeycomb

David Gilbert


After months and months of speculation and rumour, we can finally say for certainty that Android 3.0 will be called Honeycomb and it has been designed specifically with tablets in mind.

Today at CES, Andy Rubin, VP of Engineering at Google, outlined some of the features of what exactly Honeycomb will bring - with the Motorola Xoom the first tablet to show it off. The most immediate difference we see in Honeycomb is a completely new interface, which Google called a “a brand new, truly virtual and holographic user interface.” Honeycomb is the next version of the Android platform, designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets.

While current Android features will still be seen in Honeycomb, they have been tweaked to work better and faster on the new platform. Among the benefits will be refined multi-tasking, “elegant” notifications, home screen customization with a new 3D experience and redesigned widgets. Browsing has also been tweaked with the inclusion of tabbed browsing, form auto-fill, syncing with your Google Chrome bookmarks, and incognito mode for private browsing.

Honeycomb will also feature the latest Google Mobile features, including Google Maps 5 with 3D interactions and offline reliability, Google eBooks, and Google Talk, which now allows you to video and voice chat with any other Google Talk enabled device (PC, tablet, etc).

The only tablet we have so far seen running Honeycomb is a Motorola Xoom tablet but we are pretty sure we will see a lot more this week and in the coming months.

Source: Google


January 6, 2011, 12:47 pm

Hardly looks anything amazing but it's quite nice. There is also, disappointedly, no minimum spec. In a years time I really fear Android is going to be a nightmare with no 2 devices being in any way consistent. Hope I am wrong

David Gilbert

January 6, 2011, 1:21 pm

@Runadumb I agree that minimum specs, such as WP7 insist on, is going to cause further fragmentation of the Android platform. This could be a disaster or could lead to dozens of powerful proprietary systems emerging,

Either way Honeycomb finally looks like an Android platform that could make Android tablets competitive against the iPad....and the RIM PlayBook.


January 6, 2011, 2:57 pm

Really glad to see that Google have gone a slightly different way than just copying iOS. Obviously getting a good impression of how a system will work in day-to-day use is almost impossible but first impressions are of something tailored more towards the geek crowd (feels a bit... busy, a bit information-dense) than the non-technical user. Which, just to be clear, is fine. More than that, it's great, there's certainly more than enough demand there to support such a product and I'd far rather see companies trying to give their products a bit of personality than simply copying the current market leader.

Do have to agree with the minimum specs being necessary at this point though. Maybe it'll be a sort of natural minimum spec with all the transitions and graphical tricks running like treacle on anything less than a Tegra 2.

Ian Yates

January 6, 2011, 3:44 pm

Really looking forward to this, but I don't understand people's fear of fragmentation.

As long as Google improve the requirements filtering in Market so that every device only sees apps that a) can run on the device and b) warn of possible performance issues based on device spec, it becomes up to manufacturers to supply devices that fit users desires.

That way, if Bob buys a low-end Android device, he'll get a different user experience to Sue with her top-end one, but it shouldn't be a negative experience.

And for developers, there will be the draw of developing once for a whole range of devices.


January 6, 2011, 5:01 pm

Just thinking about the fragmentation issue - is this really any more of an issue than the fragmentation that can already be seen with Windows? You've got machines being sold with XP, Vista, W7 and in various flavours (Home Premium, 32-bit, 64-bit)...

Most non-technical users don't really care that much - look at the browser market as well with IE6-9, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari etc., etc.


January 6, 2011, 5:17 pm

@Ian "As long as Google improve the requirements filtering in Market so that every device only sees apps that a) can run on the device and b) warn of possible performance issues based on device spec, it becomes up to manufacturers to supply devices that fit users desires."

While I mostly agree with this, and I believe google are finally filtering in the updated market now (aren't they?) I just looked through Microsoft's CES event and was pretty impressed by the games. The simple thing is that with snapdragon (hardly cutting edge) locked down as the absolute minimum developers can create these games and apps knowing that every device will have work with them and have a good experience. Sure hardware will advance and things will start to separate as time goes on but that minimum is so important. Later down the line they could still use it so people will be able to play these games but newer devices would have higher detail levels/resolution, whatever. With Android at the minute it's such a crapshoot.

I'm not saying make dualcore the minimum, just put some floor on it, memory and processor, doesn't have to be cutting edge. That way the general quality can increase and the experience won't be so different from device to device.

So disappointed honeycomb doesn't enforce something.


January 6, 2011, 7:36 pm

I like it, but all the manufacturers will put all their crapware on it and make me not like it, but other than that it looks great.


January 6, 2011, 8:12 pm

Web browsing, maps and G mail look great! not sure about the home screens... they look very old and waste alot of space. Perhaps you can drop more bits of content on your home screen. It looks solid, but I wouldn't say t looks slick


January 6, 2011, 9:13 pm

So, now details of the GUI for Honeycomb have come out, to me it presents the big question of what the hell is the point of Chrome OS? Surely even with keyboards and trackpads this is much better than Chrome OS?


January 7, 2011, 12:05 am

Loving it, this is precisely what was required to make Android competitive on a tablet - a complete redesign of the UI and component apps to suit the format.

However, it leaves me wanting some of this polish for my smartphone. Gingerbread wasn't the interface quantum leap I was hoping for, so how about scaling down 3.0 for smartphones, eh Google? High-end handsets only need apply.


January 7, 2011, 1:49 am


Chrome OS is probably a lot more likely to run well on sub £200 hardware. I'd love to be proved wrong but if the iPad and Tab are anything to go by I'd be surprised to see any decent Honeycomb hardware under £300.


As someone who buys high end hardware I wouldn't mind a minimum spec and can see the benefits. But that would mean the end of bargains like the Orange San Francisco. I think it's a fantastic entry level smartphone for feature phone money. I'm hoping we'll soon get to a point where entry level phones are running snapdragons which will hopefully make a minimum spec a non issue.

As for Honeycomb. I think it looks interesting and can't wait to see more. I'm glad that it isn't just stretched Android and that they've actually customised it for the bigger form factor.


January 7, 2011, 2:28 pm

@rav Agree with you.

@Runadumb minimum Spec silly Idea, one of the reasons Android is so popular is because it hits all price points and has lots of different hardware a minimum spec would have stunted its initial growth. just look how much a min spec is helping WP7

Can't wait to get hold of some honeycomb hardware looks like Nvdia are breaking into Android big time.

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