Android 3.0 to kick-start tablet wars

The Android Honeycomb release will feature many tablet PC-specific features

January 19, 2011
Android 3.0 to kick-start tablet wars

Google’s Android mobile phone operating system was one of the winners of 2010, booming in popularity to become the second most popular smartphone OS by the end of the year. Now in 2011 it looks that Google is setting its sights firmly on the tablet market.

Android 3.0, otherwise known as Honeycomb, should be released early this year, and is clearly marked as a tablet-specific release.

While most mobile makers were making a big splash at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, Google kept a low profile, but they did post a video on YouTube with some details on Android 3.0.

The video opens with the words “Built Entirely for Tablet” leaving little doubt as to Google’s focus for the OS.

The video shows Android 3.0 running on what looks to be a 10-inch tablet PC. The screenshots show an OS that is not simply a rework of the current Android OS but rather has an interface designed specifically for the tablet PC format.

Some of the features that are apparent from the video and screenshots include a new desktop, with widgets and icons in the corners, and a full-width on-screen horizontal keyboard similar to the iPad’s version.

The OS also includes Google eBooks (which turns the tablet into an e-reader), a new tablet-specific interface for YouTube and what looks like full-screen video calling using Google Talk.

One of the things that Google appears to be doing with Android 3.0 is to integrate its own applications, such as GMail, Docs and eBooks directly into the operating system, rather than having them feel like third party add-ons.

Also in the pipeline for Android 3.0 appears to be a new 3D interface. The new interface suggests that Google is keen to move away from criticisms that Android is fragmented and heralds a move towards a common platform across all Android devices. To date, individual mobile makers such as HTC and Sony Ericsson have included their own interfaces on top of the Android platform. With the new 3D interface Google is hoping to end this.

Android 3.0 is expected to be released in early 2011 according to Andy Rubin, Google’s Android chief.

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