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Google Shows Off Honeycomb, Market Website And In-App Purchases

David Gilbert


Google Shows Off Honeycomb, Market Website And In-App Purchases

Yesterday evening over at Mountain View, Google gave us an in depth look at Honeycomb on Motorola’s new Xoom tablet, announced the new Android Market website and showed off in-app purchases.

Honeycomb is Google’s tablet-specific OS and we first got a glimpse of it back in December before Google unveiled a video of it at the start of January. Last week it announced the Android 3.0 Platform Highlights website. Yesterday however we got our first glimpse of how this new OS works for the user. Google's Hugo Barra took to the stage to show off Honeycomb working on the Xoom and we have to admit it looked pretty impressive. This included the revamped homescreen with back, home and mutlitasking buttons on the bottom left with notifications and system status on the bottom right hand side.

Among the many new features, Barra showed off the new widgets, thouh similar to those on smartphones, are now backed by collections of data which can be visualised. He showed off Gmail, calender, ebook and YouTube widgets and demonstrated scrolling through stack and grid widgets simultaneously using the multi-touch capabilities of the Xoom. The notifications system has been also redesigned to contain more information. In relation to apps, existing Android apps will run “really well on tablets,” however tablet-optimised apps will be encouraged and the introduction of something called app “fragments” was shown off through the new Gmail app with very impressive results. There was much more on display and you can see it all on the video above.

The press conference then went on to announce the Android Market website which is basically what it says on the tin. The website, which is already live, allows you to browse the entire Market catalogue on your desktop. You can purchase any app you want, and then – via the magic of over-the-air transfers – it downloads and installs onto your Android handset. All very simple really.

The final major announcement was regarding in-app purchases, a feature we reported was coming last week. Google revealed that it was developer interest, which prompted them to include this within Android Market. The in-app purchasing SDK is releasing to developers today and will be "live to users prior to the end of this quarter."

Source: Google Mobile Blog and YouTube


February 3, 2011, 3:11 pm

Only got to watch 10 mins or so of this live last night but going from the news sites they never once mentioned how (or if) it would be coming to phones. I thought with all the confusion over this at CES they would have taken the time at this event to at least clarify the situation.

I find that pretty annoying and quite typical of google. They just run ahead without really thinking about it. I don't care if most of the UI is unique to tablets but what about the hardware acceleration? The photo app? The new music player? and other things that were shown off. We all assume that they will obviously be coming to phones but in what way and when??

Shame they couldn't clear some of that up but I take it they really wanted to focus on tablets. Just a mention of a phone version would have been nice, maybe at MWC.

As for honeycomb, ah, looks grand, for a tablet OS. Not as fugly as I thought it was at CES.


February 3, 2011, 3:25 pm

That is all very interesting.

However, there is one thing missing that I would have liked to hear more about. How are they going to make the transition from tablet to phone with Android 3.0. And how are the applications going to cross over between tablet and phone.

But I guess that is a story for another time. It might have taken some of the excitement away from 2.3 if they had started talking about 3.0 as a phone OS.

David Gilbert

February 3, 2011, 3:41 pm

@Runadumb @Jesper I agree about the lack of clarification about mobile phone platforms. Talk about features of Honeycomb being completely portable to mobile phones is not good news. Honeycomb, according to Google themselves, was built as a tablet-specific OS so why would you put it on a phone. It is the flip side of the problem of putting Froyo on a tablet....it just won't work - properly at least.

I think it is time for Google to split the mobile phone Android from the tablet Android however with phones getting bigger and tablets coming in small packages these days, maybe the lines are too blurred for this to happen any time soon.


February 3, 2011, 5:36 pm

From what I've read we'll get honey on our phones. The "fragments" that you see side by side on the Tablet will be displayed one by one on the phone. eg. in gMail folders & emails on the tablet displayed together, whereas just one at a time on the phone. But I think we won't be seeing it on phones for a while until more powerful ones come out and they do some more tweaking as they do seem to have concentrated on getting it tablet ready first.

Makes you wonder why Microsoft haven't let anyone put WP7 on a tablet yet, but then they need the updates (copy/paste, etc out there first).

Glenn Gore

February 3, 2011, 5:47 pm

So now we have Honeycomb (Android 2.4) available, while the vast majority of Android phones still run on 2.1; a few run on Froyo (2.2), and even less run on Gingerbread (2.3). Google said back in November that Gingerbread would be released for the NexusOne "in a few weeks" and it still has not appeared. The whole Android platform is just a complete mess of fragmentation with 4 different versions of their OS. Contrast this with the iPhone, in which EVERY model ever released with the exception of the first one can and does run the latest version of the iOS software. How sad!


February 3, 2011, 5:50 pm

I think Honeycomb is looking very promising. It lokos safe to say that it's not just a big version of Android and that Google have put a lof of thought into making it work well for the form factor.

More details about the phone version would be good however from what I've read about fragments it seems that apps will work accross both platforms and just display different fragments depending on the form factor and orientation. It seems like quite an elegant solution and should hopefully avoid having separate apps for tablet and mobile.

But I would like to know more about how UI elements like the action bar and application bar will work on mobiles given the limited screen space.


February 3, 2011, 6:01 pm

@Glenn here are the figures for Android versions http://developer.android.co...

You may find froyo is on more devices than you think.

Oh and yes, we were told to expect Gingerbread on the Nexus one in "the coming weeks" Well, it's coming up to 7 weeks since that was said. Much longer than I'm sure many of us expected. Manufactures must find all this hell! Even Google themselves seem to struggle.


February 3, 2011, 7:33 pm

Glenn said "EVERY model ever released with the exception of the first one can and does run the latest version of the iOS software"

I'm not sure that&#8217s true. My wife&#8217s iPhone CAN run IOS4 but doesn&#8217t. You can only upgrade if you connect to iTunes.

My iPod touch has been updated to IOS4 but has killed battery life if I don&#8217t put it in air plane mode every time I switch it off. Now I can's switch back.


February 4, 2011, 12:33 am

The presenter in the video keeps saying how incredibly smooth the animation is, but it looks quite rough to me. The you tube video wall (12m45sec in the video) is full of stutters. Compare it to Apple's Cover Flow say, on even an iPhone 1. The existing Android versions for phones have the same problems. It's as though Google only hires engineers with slow optic nerves.


February 4, 2011, 4:59 pm

Id like google to charge for apps and in-apps in local currency only so I'm not charged £1 from my bank every time I buy in dollars etc.

David Gilbert

February 4, 2011, 5:11 pm

@TL1210 If you check out the video about 42 mins in, you will hear them talking about Buyer Currency Support coming to Android, which means developers can go in and enter explicit prices for the currencies supported. It is being rolled out in a phased manner, has already been started in the US.

Tony Young

February 4, 2011, 7:48 pm

@Edammer I agree! I updated my iPod touch to iOS4 and now get one-and-a-half days from the battery instead of the 8-10 days previously.

Apple said to close any multi-tasking apps, but it doesn't even multi-task! I'm sticking with Android from now on and I'm waiting for the HTC tablet with Honeycomb (for my work).

I still love my Desire, ten months in - and I'm not sure why @Runadum et al always want the latest OS for their phone (even before it's officially announced) and then knock Google for not releasing it before it's ready - it's a phone isn't it? It still makes calls, right? You'll probably need dual core for Honeycomb anyway.

I don't think that Google should be knocked for continually moving the technology forward for new or more technically advanced devices. Do you want them to stand still - or just wait for Apple to rule the world?

Maybe they should just decide on a strategy to leak product info somewhere between the way they do it now (too early) and the once-a-year messianic delivery of Apple.

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