Using the popular Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as a launch pad, Google showcased the next version of its Android operating system, codenamed Honeycomb. But while you might associate Android with smartphones, the Honeycomb OS has been designed from the ground up for the next big craze: tablets.
Google has purposefully spent a lot of time refining the user experience for the Honeycomb update, which is tipped to be released in the first half of 2011, though Google has yet to pin an official release date on the OS. One of the first tablets to use the OS will be Motorola’s Xoom Tablet, which you’ll see dotted over the next few pages.
Andy Rubin, VP of Engineering, explained, "Many of Android’s existing features will really shine on Honeycomb: refined multi-tasking, elegant notifications, access to over 100,000 apps on Android Market, home screen customisation with a new 3D experience and redesigned widgets that are richer and more interactive.”
Google has made some powerful upgrades to the web browser, including tabbed browsing, form auto-fill, syncing with your Google Chrome bookmarks, and incognito mode for private browsing.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights from Google’s CES presentation
Email will always be a big part of using a tablet, and the Gmail app will use a two-column approach to displaying your messages. The left side of the display will feature the menu while the right is reserved for your mailbox.
Google Maps now in 3D
Everybody should be familiar with Google’s popular Maps service, which will now offer a tablet-friendly user interface for location pop-up menus. The app will also feature offline reliability.
Considering Google owns YouTube, it’s no surprise that the video-sharing app has been given an overhaul for Honeycomb. The new interface looks slick and easy to navigate, making movie clips a job to watch on a tablet.
Thinking of shelling out on an e-reader? Well, you might want to hold off until prices are announced for Honeycomb tablets in New Zealand. Google’s eBooks service offers access to millions of online books to download.
The clip of the browser in action featured everything you expect from an app based on the Chrome browser. The keyboard looks big and comfortable, but we especially like the addition of the emoticon key next to the spacebar.
The video and voice chat service is evolving all the time, and using Honeycomb you’ll be able to talk to any other Google Talk-enabled device such as a PC or another tablet. Should Skype be worried?