We got our first look at Android 3.0 Honeycomb at CES in January 2011. Later that month, Google released the SDK preview, and we really got into the OS. Honeycomb is Google's version of Android that is specifically for large screen devices like tablets and Google TV. It remains it's own special code branch until the platform is unified by adding feature support for smartphones in Ice Cream Sandwich sometime in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Honeycomb brings a feature-rich Android experience to tablets, and ushers in a major change in the way Google controls Android. Rather than make the Honeycomb version of Android available to everyone, Google is holding OEMs to stricter hardware and software standards. Some may argue that this goes against the open philosophy we're used to from Google, but it affords them a tighter control and focuses development.
Android 3.0 highlights
- A new "holographic" user interface and interaction model -- what we've seen on the Motorola Xoom.
- UI framework for creating great apps for larger screen devices.
- High-performance 2D and 3D graphics.
- Support for multicore processor architectures.
- Rich multimedia: New multimedia features such as HTTP Live streaming support, a pluggable DRM framework, and easy media file transfer through MTP/PTP, give developers new ways to bring rich content to users.
- New types of connectivity: New APIs for Bluetooth A2DP and HSP let applications offer audio streaming and headset control. Support for Bluetooth insecure socket connection lets applications connect to simple devices that may not have a user interface.
- Enhancements for enterprise: New administrative policies, such as for encrypted storage and password expiration, help enterprise administrators manage devices more effectively.
Android 3.1 Honeycomb was announced at Google IO in May, and the Motorola Xoom started receiving updates within a day or so.
Android 3.1 highlights
- Support for the new Android Market movie rentals service with thousands of titles available for immediate viewing on the Motorola XOOM’s high-resolution display or on a larger screen via HDMI
- Full support for the final release of Adobe® Flash® Player 10.2, delivering significant performance enhancements when viewing rich Flash content on the web
- Resizable widgets to enable further customization of home screens
- Support for USB-connected peripherals and accessories, such as keyboards, mice, game controllers and digital cameras
- Expanded Bluetooth features to support Bluetooth headsets in Google Talk™ video chats and Bluetooth mouse support in addition to additional shortcut keys with the Bluetooth keyboard
- Picture Transfer Protocol Feature support to enable easier transfer of photo files to your PC without the need for drivers