Yesterday in my post about Google’s Honeycomb event I pointed out that Google did not show this version of Android running on a smartphone. I thought the event would have been a good time for Google to address the debate about whether they were forking Android into smartphone and tablet versions.
Boy Genius Report links to an article on PCMAG.COM that quotes a Google spokesman as saying that Honeycomb is for tablets, at least for now. Google did state that certain features in Honeycomb may make it to the smartphone platform in the future. This direction as reported by PC Magazine makes sense in context of the news about Android 2.4, code named Ice Cream Sandwich.
While Google hasn’t come right out and stated this, it looks like the next version of Android for smartphones will be Android 2.4, which we don’t know very much about. Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) may come out at about the same time, and I expect subsequent tablet updates to be point releases, such as 3.1, 3.2, etc. Smartphones will continue to get 2.x releases, and that presents the possibility for the two platforms to merge in some way with 4.0 releases.
Now that we almost have the whole mystery about which devices will get Honeycomb, perhaps the debate can move on to whether or not it is important that Android looks and functions the same way on smartphones and tablets. While Apple seems to have set the standard of having the same UI on tablets and smartphones, who is to say that is correct?
My contention is that smartphones and tablets are different devices with different use cases and therefore the UI should be different. I don’t see a problem with different UIs for the two platforms, provided that doing so doesn’t make it more difficult for developers. Consequently, one of the most important things we learned during the Honeycomb event is that existing Android apps, presumably written for Android 2.2, run without modification on Honeycomb.