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Google Invites Media To Android Honeycomb Event
Google Invites Media To Android Honeycomb Event

By Barry Levine
January 31, 2011 11:22AM

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Motorola's Xoom tablet is expected to have a starring role as Google unveils Android 3.0, known as Honeycomb. The newest Android version has been optimized for tablets. While Samsung already has the Galaxy Tab on the market, it runs on Android 2.2, which was designed for smartphones. Honeycomb will drive Android's challenge to Apple's iPad.

As the tablet wars heat up, the newest version of Google's open-source Android operating system -- version 3.0, or Honeycomb -- could become a major factor. That new OS, which is optimized for tablets, will be formally unveiled Wednesday at the search giant's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.

An invitation from Google, entitled A Taste of What's New from Android, has been sent to news media. It's expected that Motorola's Xoom tablet, the first with Honeycomb, will have a starring role.

'From the Ground Up'

While Samsung's Android-powered Galaxy Tab has reportedly sold two million units, it uses the earlier version 2.2, which was adapted for tablet use by Samsung. Before Honeycomb, Android was specifically designed for smartphones and similar form factors.

A software development kit for Honeycomb was released last week, when the company emphasized that the new OS was designed "from the ground up" with tablets in mind.

The exact features of Honeycomb are still being revealed, but extensive multitasking, a range of customizable widgets, support for near field communication e-wallets, a new system bar with notifications, a revamped web browser with a new 3-D rendering engine, and a gyroscope are known.

Honeycomb was briefly demoed for a technology conference in December by Google Vice President of Engineering Andy Rubin, using a then-prototype Motorola Xoom. The demo included Google Maps with 3-D buildings. The Xoom was also shown at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month.

The OS Wars

Al Hilwa, program director of application development at IDC, said a key issue for Honeycomb is adapting to the differences between tablets and smartphones. He noted that Android for smartphones "requires things in the device that some tablets don't have," such as hardware buttons.

Another issue, he said, "is the way multitasking is done and is surfaced in tablets," since what "works in smartphones often doesn't with a larger form factor."

Honeycomb could become a major factor in the tablet wars, as it will be the key to determining Android's position as a platform alternative to Apple's iPad and its iOS.

In addition to Android, Hewlett-Packard is set to unveil its webOS tablets in early February, and there is a significant amount of anticipation. HP has been open about the fact that the webOS platform was the single largest strategic reason that it acquired the struggling Palm last summer for $1.2 billion.

There's also Research In Motion's new PlayBook, which uses a RIM-specific OS, and a variety of Windows 7 tablets. RIM begins with a well-established advantage in the enterprise market because of its BlackBerry smartphone, and the PlayBook is designed to get online access through an accompanying BlackBerry. Some observers have noted that this is an awkward combination for consumers, but PlayBook-with-BlackBerry could make IT management simpler.

Tell Us What You Think


Rian P:

Posted: 2011-01-31 @ 11:59am PT
your information is almost correct. Galaxy Tab has not sold 2M. 2M units have shipped to their end sellers Samsung announced. Samsung announced this at their last Corp meeting.

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