Honeycomb Sweetens Android Tablet Experience

Wayne Rash
The first announcement of a tablet device running Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' operating system came before the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) actually opened. T-Mobile sent out releases touting its LG tablet device, called the T-Mobile G-Slate. The new tablet works with T-Mobile's HSPA+ network, which the carrier has started calling "4G." According to T-Mobile, this is the first device running Honeycomb.

But T-Mobile is only first by a matter of hours, and even with the announcement, it's not actually available on store shelves just yet. Shortly after T-Mobile's announcement, Motorola announced the XOOM, which is a 10-inch tablet destined for Verizon Wireless and AT&T's 4G LTE networks. Likewise, Honeycomb is apparently coming with the Lenovo LePad, as well as tablets from HTC, Fujitsu, Asus, Toshiba and others. None of these devices will be available before April because the Android 3.0 software isn't expected until the end or March.

While Honeycomb tablets are getting a great deal of attention at CES, it's not clear yet exactly how much difference there is between this version of Android and earlier versions that ran primarily on smartphones. Google's own preview provides little information beyond noting that there's a new version of Google Maps to go with the larger screens on tablet devices.

For the most part, it appears that there are two areas of difference that are significant to users. The first is that these devices aren't phones, so they won't be used for making voice calls as you would with an Android phone. The second is that the primary modifications to this version of Android are designed to accommodate the larger screen size. This means that the home screen is redesigned, as are some of the widgets and some of the apps. However, most of the apps currently available in the Android market are designed for the relatively small screens of Android phones, and may not display well on the larger Honeycomb tablets.

This is not to suggest that the Honeycomb tablets aren't capable of communications. They are mostly designed to function on 4G networks, and this will make video communications feasible. T-Mobile has already announced that its G-Slate will support videoconferencing using Google Talk. T-Mobile also announced that it is doubling the speed of its 4G network, which should help support widespread videoconferencing. The Honeycomb tablet's chief competition, the Apple iPad, currently cannot support videoconferencing, although it may when the iPad 2 is announced in the spring. The iPhone 4, which will do videoconferencing, can only accomplish it with a WiFi connection.

It's worth noting that while Android 3.0 Honeycomb will provide significant benefits for tablet users, current Android tablets are using variations of Android 2. The Dell Streak, announced by T-Mobile at CES, for example, runs Android 2.2. Likewise, a significant number of existing Android tablets will not be upgradable to 3.0. While reports that Honeycomb will require a dual-core processor have been denied by Google, the devices will still require memory and processor power beyond what's available in some existing Android Tablets.

It's also not known whether Honeycomb will have any effect on the enterprise usability of Android. However, it's unlikely since the modifications seem to be aimed exclusively at the larger form factor of the tablet devices, and that's unlikely to affect security, remote management apps or other enterprise characteristics.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 6, 2011 10:01 PM Anonymous Anonymous  says:
Hi, At the present time the latest skype provides the video conference using either wifi or 3G. Reply
Jan 7, 2011 12:01 AM Sephim Sephim  says:
I was at CES 2011 in Las Vegas. It was crazy. Honeycomb is going to be amazing. Reply
Jan 19, 2011 7:01 AM Anonymous Anonymous  says:
well instead of of releasing the Android 3.4 Google announced 2.4 version. in this pace 3.0 will come only at 2012 Reply
Mar 16, 2011 3:37 PM JANCOO JANCOO  says: in response to Anonymous
Amazing as other automatization tool: http://preview.tinyurl.com/49up3w5 Reply

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