Mobility

Google unveils Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' as a tablet-only OS

As technology vendors announced a variety of Android tablets at CES on Wednesday, Google quietly unveiled the long-rumored Honeycomb software that will power them.

Google isn't one of the major exhibitors at CES 2011 in Las Vegas this week, but the company's Android 3.0 software has been the topic of a lot of conversations and served as a footnote on a lot of slides since many of the Android tablets that are being announced at CES have an asterisk next to them: *Available with the release of Android 3.0 ("Honeycomb").

However, while CES was churning up news and product announcements on Wednesday, the Google Android team quietly posted a YouTube video previewing the Honeycomb software release.

The video opens with the message that it is "built entirely for tablet" and then shows a preview of screenshots and screencasts of what appears to be a 10-inch tablet running a version of Android with a dark blue theme consistent with the new color scheme that debuted in Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread") in December.

The video shows:

  • The ability to open multiple smartphone-size apps at a time and stack them next to each other (something iPad doesn't do)
  • A full-size horizontal keyboard similar to the iPad's
  • A slick visualization of Google Books in action
  • A tablet-optimized email client similar to the Web version of Gmail for iPad
  • A cool new tablet UI for YouTube
  • A full screen video call using GoogleTalk
  • A tablet version of Google Maps with 3D modeling and StreetView

Notice that all of the apps in the demo are internal Google software. That points to the fact that Google is still at the early stages in its tablet OS development and probably hasn't unleashed this on third-party software partners yet. However, the company needed to show that it's making progress in the tablet-focused UI and this demo is a first step.

Take a look:

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About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

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