Google Android Honeycomb(v3.0) revealed
There was a big presentation and after that some hands on were invited attendees got some time with the new version of Android running on the coming Motorola Xoom tablet. Overall most of the people who got some hands on time seems generally pleased with what the Android team have accomplished with Honeycomb.
General UI changes for the tablet format
The tablets are not using any physical buttons like the smartphones are so the menu, home, back and search buttons are no more. However these are moved into the UI instead. In the bottom left corner there is a back, home and menu button. Where the menu button has turned into more of an “alt tab”-button, enabling you to see apps running in the background and letting you swap to them.
In the bottom right hand bar you have your notification bar, clock, battery status and other such status icons. The notifiers is something that have been enhanced compared to the previous Android versions. It’s now more customizable and richer, enabling app developers to give the users more control of apps trough the notifications. Another change is for the user to control the notifications individually, clearing some, keeping some.
You can add widgets to your homescreens just as on the phone, accessible in the upper right hand corner is the homescreen customizer and from there you get an overview of your five homescreens. From the homescreen customizer you can then add widgets, app shortcuts and wallpapers to your different screens.
Then in the upper part there is a general application bar which apps will use for their own needs, menu’s, search and what not.
On top of this they are releasing a few new widgets, one they called a “stack” style widget, good for showing for example photos that you can flip away from the top of the stack. Some other widgets have gotten scrollable now too, like the Gmail and Calendar widgets.
Other functionality and enhancements
One thing that was noticeable in some of the demos is that they have invested a fair amount of time on the UI transitions. Here they have implemented something they call Renderscript. It wasn’t fully specified what it was but it looks like an API for creating smooth 3D like UI experiences, and this is something that developers will have full access too developing third party apps as well.
Also stated was that all that is needed now is one line of code for developers to get their apps UI’s hardware accelerated.
A new music player was introduced, heavily relying on their renderscript for a carousel functionality when selecting music. It was looking pretty good and it’s nice that they took some time to improve the player, as it’s actually a bit dull in the current smartphone version(Froyo). I’m not sure if they are reusing any code between Gingerbread and Honeycomb here, as I have yet to test Gingerbread.
A few games were demonstrated that were said to be unaltered versions of games currently on the market for smartphones, so supposedly no alterations of most smartphone apps are needed to work on Honeycomb.
Video chat was demonstrated, some said both video and sound quality was so-so, but maybe that was up to a crammed wifi at the moment. Time will tell if that application will hold it’s own.
Some other Android related news
Another news worth mentioning is that Google now released a new web experience for Android Market. Here you will be able to:
- Setup an account and connect multiple devices to it
- Copy things form one device to another
- Buy apps and start installs of them on your device
- Be social and share info with others
Other more developer centric news is that Google announced in-app purchases are coming. This hasn’t been possible without some third party API before, so this is welcome news and might enable some app developers to swap over to more lucrative business models for their apps.
IntoMobile had a good video walk trough of one of the developers at the event, check it out for some more info and to get a feel of what the Motorola Xoom looks like with Honeycomb deployed.
Click here for the full post at IntoMobile.