Take A Peek At Android 3 – Honeycomb

You are probably aware that there are currently a handful of tablets running Android available, most notable is the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which is being sold by multiple mobile providers. The tablets that are currently available are running Android 2.2 or older, which Google has said is not optimized to run on tablets. Samsung has made customizations to the version of Android running on the Tab so that it provides a good user experience.

While Android 2.3 is being queued up to be soon pushed to smartphones, Google is hard at work at Version 3 of Android, code named Honeycomb, which is optimized to run on tablets. When Android 3 is released the same software will run on smartphones and tablets.

At the All Things D:Mobile conference, Google’s Andy Rubin demonstrated a prototype Motorola tablet running a very early version of Android 3, and a video of it is available for you to watch. A couple of things to note is that the prototype has no hardware buttons, so no matter what orientation the tablet is in, the buttons will always be located at the bottom of the screen. The home screen on the larger tablet looks more like the desktop on personal computers rather than the home screens of smartpones.

Rubin showed a version of Gmail that is optimized for the tablet, which has a split screen view with the list of e-mail on the left side of the screen and the body of a selected message displayed on the right. If you have seen the Mail app on an iPad in landscape, you know how Gmail works in the same view on a tablet. Rubin said the same code for the Gmail app has a different view on smartphones that acts like it does today where it lists your messages and you tap the messages to open the body.

You will see in the video that the display autorotates very quickly as the tablet is moved around, and it is reported that the Motorola tablet is using a dual core Nvidia processor. The video includes a demonstration of the new version of Google Maps that uses vector graphics to render 3D images of buildings, and Rubin uses gestures to move within the app and the display moves pretty smoothly.

I would say performance looks good for an early development version of the operating system. What is encouraging is that Google obviously understands that they should not simply port Android to the tablet without optimizing it for tablet use, and I think that bodes well for us to see great Android tablets in the near future.