February 3rd, 2011

Google presents ‘Hon­ey­comb’ — the next ver­sion of Android

Android 3.0 - 'Honeycomb'Google pre­viewed ‘Hon­ey­comb’ this week, the upcom­ing, tablet-​focused ver­sion of the Android oper­at­ing sys­tem. This ver­sion — ver­sion 3.0 — runs the new tablet-​sized apps, as well as exist­ing Android smart­phone apps, and Google are hop­ing that it will enable Android based devices to start to com­pete with Apple’s iPad.

Google has designed the home screen of Android ‘Hon­ey­comb’ oper­ated tab­lets to provide a dense array of wid­gets span­ning mul­tiple pages.

It also has a lower “Sys­tem Bar” con­tain­ing app switcher con­trols and a taskbar (called “noti­fic­a­tions and sys­tem status”), an upper “Action Bar” with search and app launch­ing con­trols, and a series of vir­tual desktops, each con­tain­ing a strip of app icons below a series of float­ing pan­els that can present media play­back con­trols, live inbox and cal­en­dar items, stacks of ebooks and You­Tube videos.

The ‘Hon­ey­comb’ home screen lay­out has far more in com­mon with a desktop PC than the rel­at­ively simple iPad, which was based on the iPhone.

Google described the ‘Hon­ey­comb’ desktop as “an applic­a­tion devel­op­ment plat­form in itself,” using the same wid­get apps that appear on Android phones. One draw­back to exist­ing Android wid­gets is that often they con­stantly request data, using up bat­tery life. Apple designed their iOS devices to do very little until the user actu­ally launches an app, help­ing to con­serve bat­tery life.

How­ever, ‘Hon­ey­comb’ deliv­ers some fea­tures cur­rently miss­ing from Apple’s iPad. These include elev­a­tion views with 3D build­ings in Google Maps 5.0, a popup noti­fic­a­tion sys­tem that presents update notices sim­ilar to the Win­dows taskbar and sup­port for Goog­leTalk video messaging.

The new Android release also catches up in some respects to iOS 4.0. Of par­tic­u­lar interest to busi­nesses is sup­port for some basic new enter­prise policy man­age­ment fea­tures and HTTP Live Stream­ing. How­ever, it remains to be seen whether its this will trans­late into a more func­tional and secure oper­at­ing sys­tem for busi­nesses, in a year when when the iPad 2 and the RIM Play­book will be launched.

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