Android 3.0 Honeycomb review - first look

Android for tablets - so what's it all about?

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Android 3.0 Honeycomb - details emerge...

The Motorola Xoom is the first tablet to run Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb, and Dave Burke, Engineering Manger from Google, was able to give us a more detailed breakdown of Honeycomb and what we can expect to see in the Motorola Xoom.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb controls:

We’ve already mentioned the removal of the hardware buttons, to be replaced (for the first time) with three virtual controls, this is so you can swap orientation without having to fumble for an awkward button placement and so it can be reconfigured if necessary.

Elsewhere there’s a micro SD slot, which is inactive at the moment, but will be accessible for future firmware upgrades.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb Browser:

Google’s tried to create more of a desktop feel, with tabs you can quickly launch and swap between and incognito mode/private browsing.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb - YouTube:

The interface has been totally redesigned; it looks like a 3D ‘wall’ of thumbnails you scroll left and right through. It’s very similar to the Google Nexus S and it’s main menu that tails off into the distance at the top and bottom. When you play a video you can watch it in a small screen in the top left, without having to leave the main screen. Of course there’s full screen browsing on the 16:9 screen.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb - books:

The lead e-reader on the device is Google Books with 3 million titles. It’s cloud based, so you can access it on your phone, computer and the tablet. We weren’t able to get a close look, but pages animate like a real book as you turn them, with navigation controls hidden until you press the screen.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb: Google Maps:

The Xoom is the first tablet to run Google Mobile Maps 5.0 and the difference is evident straight away. Previously Google maps tiles were images, but now they composed of vector information, which is smaller, consequently maps load more quickly - pinch to zoom to get close and it scales very quickly.

Version 5.0 brings 3D building information from100 cities. There’s been lots of demonstrations of this on the internet, but on the Xoom’s larger screen it’s much more impressive.

In our demonstration we were shown a map of Manhattan: a two-fingers twist swaps the map from 2D with flat images, to 3D, it’s really impressive when you get close to individual buildings, like the Empire State Building, which you can rotate.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb Gmail:

Gmail now has a two-payne view. You can have your mailboxes in a vertical column on the left and messages running down the right, and an open threaded message on the right. Most interesting is at an action bar at the top, commands changes depending on the content, click on two emails and commands could be archive.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb speech recognition:
Unless you drive a lot, you might not use have used speech recognition. We had a couple of examples of pre-populated examples: ‘Send email to XXX, subject, XXX’ and the email appears pre-populated.’ Another commands include: ‘Listen to Lady Gaga Bad Romance’ and it fires off an intent to find something to play it on, which in our example was Spotify.’

Want more? Check out Android 3.0 Honeycomb in action on the Motorola Xoom - video below: