Android 3.0 Honeycomb unveiled in full by Google

Hugely impressive tablet OS shown off at launch event

Google throws down the gauntlet to the iPad

Google has shown off the long-awaited tablet-friendly Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet at a launch event in San Francisco.

The top-to-bottom redesign of the OS was first previewed on the Motorola XOOM tablet at CES last month but has now been fully unveiled and looks to be a hugely impressive upgrade to rival iOS on the iPad.

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The big changes from the mobile version include a completely new tablet-friendly UI, multi-tasking system, fantastic use of 3D grahpics and animations and a new video chat alternative to FaceTime.

The multitasking tab can be brought up on the left hand side of the screen at any time, allowing users to easily navigate through running apps, while non-intrusive notifications and key settings tabs can be summoned from the bottom right.

Perhaps the most impressive new feature shows a complete revolution of the UI with attractive animations and 3D graphics. Transitions between screens and menus are super slick, while the 'bubbled' widgets allow you to easily scan between emails, videos, and books et al while staying on the homescreen.

Android 3.0 also showcases the new RenderScript 3D graphics platform which was best showcased by a new 3D video wall in YouTube and an exquisite page turning animation in the Books that makes the slickness of Apple's iBooks app look old hat

There's also the new "Application fragment" functionality which will allow developers to present information in panes, just like in iPad applications like Twitter and BBC News. Google thinks that it will allow developers to make apps more intuitive.

All in all it was a massively impressive debut for the new OS, which we're likely to see first on the Motorola XOOM tablet set for launch this Spring.

You can see a preview of the OS here:

Link: Android Honeycomb