Google hosted an event today during which they showed more of what is coming in Android 3.0, otherwise known as Honeycomb. The video of the event was broadcast live on the Internet on YouTube, and my understanding is that the recording of the event will be posted on the YouTube Android Developers channel. As of the time I am writing this, the event recording is not available.
I’ll start my reaction to the event by pointing out what we did not see, which is Honeycomb running on a smartphone. With all of the debate last week about whether or not Google was forking Android, you would think this event would have been a good opportunity to deny a fork, preferrably by showing it running on a smartphone, but they did not. Another key thing we did not learn during today’s event is when we will actually see devices running Honeycomb. I expect we won’t know a ship date until the Google I/O conference in May.
What is plain from the event is that Google has put a lot of time into the tablet user experience, and frankly at the end of it I felt that Honeycomb is considerably more optimized for tablets than iOS. Take for example multitasking, which is a simple tap of an on-screen button, and a tap of a thumbnail view of the running app, whereas the same task in iOS requires double-pressing the hardware button and then tapping the icon of the running app.
The overall visuals in Honeycomb appear to be stunning, whether it is in the YouTube app, the eBook app, or the Music app. Notifications appear at the bottom right of the screen and contain more information, which, by the way, I can’t see being implemented in the same way on a smartphone. One thing I really like, the Gmail app supports drag and drop so to label a message you simply drag it to the label name on the left side of the screen.
The more I see of Honeycomb the more I am looking forward to getting my hands on a tablet running it. I am honestly beginning to think that it can replace the iPad as my day-to-day tablet, which makes me wonder just how much Apple is going to change iOS in response to the work that Google has done with Android.