Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

Summary: How well does the new update to Android Honeycomb fix the issues plaguing it?

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This past week we heard a number of welcome announcements at Google I/O, not the least of which was the release of Android 3.1. Still dubbed Honeycomb, version 3.1 is supposed to correct a number of showstopping issues with the operating system that caused it to be roundly snubbed by the press.

Currently the update is being pushed out to Verizon and Wifi XOOM owners alike. Being the impatient sort that I am, I decided to track down the update and install it manually. Using this method found on the XDA Developers forum, I had reverted back to the stock boot image and system files, and then used the process to upgrade my tablet without needing to wipe my data. Of course, I did make a backup just in case.

Readers may remember that I recently rooted and installed the Tiamat kernel on my tablet, which improved stability and provided me with access to the SD card. Unfortunately, the Tiamat Kernel is not currently compatible with Android 3.1, so you might want to wait for version 1.4.2 before trying to install it.

Also See: Motorola XOOM vs. Galaxy Tab 7: A study in usability

After updating, the interface looked pretty much the same as it did previously. What I did notice was that the device felt a lot faster and smoother overall, for transitions, animations and application launching. I've noticed quite a few minor tweaks in the core applications; minor improvements in the user interface and layout.

Two major issues with the previous version of Honeycomb were the Android Market and the browser. Both of them were notoriously unreliable, crashing with little or no provoication. The browser was well-known for simply closing up without even an error message just for turning the tablet from landscape to portrait orientation.

Those issues are now gone. The browser and Market apps are quite stable now. I have also noticed a definite improvement in the performance of Flash video playback. Previously, videos from sites like Viddler would play, but the video would freeze while the sound kept playing. Now that issue has also been resolved.

Adobe has released Flash 10.3 for Android and desktops, which goes even further in improving Flash by utilizing hardware acceleration.

Of course, there are still some issues stemming from compatibility with Android 3.x. There are applications that were written specifically for Android 2.x, and are not necessarily compatible with the new operating system. Issues with resolution, orientation, and simply inability to run under the new OS exist in numerous applications.

Of course, this behavior is to be expected in any major OS upgrade. It happened numerous times with Microsoft Windows every time they had a major revision. Hopefully now that Google seems to have stabilized the operating system, more developers will update their apps to be compatible with the new OS.

And maybe, just maybe, Google will push an update that gives us access to the SD card slot. Right now, without Tiamat, the only way I can access the SD card is on recovery reboot through ROM Manager and Clockwork Recovery Image.

Topics: Hardware, Browser, Laptops, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Tablets

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59 comments
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  • Nice

    But why are they obssesed with copying Apple and everything Apple does??
    Hasam1991
    • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

      @Hasam1991 Not sure they are. They have copied as much from Windows as they have Apple, Gnome, and KDE...they also have aspects of the old Symbian interface. Innovation is about taking the best of everything and making something distinctly new. I believe Android has for the most part done that.
      Socratesfoot
      • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

        @Socratesfoot

        Everyone borrows a bit from somewhere.

        "If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants."

        Isaac Newton
        Alan Smithie
    • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

      @Hasam1991 You mean like,

      Unified notification area
      Flash Support
      Widget support
      App Draw
      Bluetooth Game Controller Support
      True HD Playback on the Tablet
      Voice Control
      Voice dictation
      Bit Torrent Support
      App stores that don't require subscriptions in the App
      Animated Wallpaper

      Which one of these did they copy Apple on again?

      Oh and get this, my battery has gotten between 10 and 12 Hours now!
      slickjim
      • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

        @Peter Perry
        yes, they've improvised some things but overall the strategy look like 'We want to be Apple' look at Apple TV for example..
        Hasam1991
      • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

        @Hasam1991 Get real, Apple wasn't even the first to do that!
        slickjim
      • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

        @Peter Perry Oh my Gods! Animated wallpaper! Widgets! What a brave leap into the institutionalized ADHD world of tween tweakers.
        His_Shadow
    • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

      @Hasam1991 You mean like,

      Unified notification area
      Flash Support
      Widget support
      App Draw
      Bluetooth Game Controller Support
      True HD Playback on the Tablet
      Voice Control
      Voice dictation
      Bit Torrent Support
      App stores that don't require subscriptions in the App
      Animated Wallpaper

      Which one of these did they copy Apple on again?

      Oh and get this, my battery has gotten between 10 and 12 Hours now!
      slickjim
      • Android 3.1 battery life

        @Peter Perry The Xoom battery life was already good, but I thought I was imagining things when it seemed like I was getting even more after the update. Now that's a real improvement.
        Scott Raymond
      • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

        @Scott Raymond you were not imagining it at all, several of us noted that the Tablet is making it longer in the day without dying!

        I'm serious, this thing took what was a close comparison with the iPad 2 (nobody said the iPad 2 was beating it in every area) and has raised the bar enough that Apple cannot reach it with their present hardware!
        slickjim
    • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

      @Hasam1991 They may copy a few design elements. Everyone does. After all, ipod3 was not the first touch screen phone that did not need a stylus. But, their business model is completely different. Google monetizes their software for the benefits of its advertising customers -- every software product google releases is a direct or causal link to advertising opportunities. And Apple is a hardware company -- every software product apple releases is a direct or causal link to sell high margin hardware.
      Your Non Advocate
    • Isn't that what everybody says about Apple

      @Hasam1991
      when pointing out that much of the technology they sell has been done before (touchscreen phones, ect) that their "brilliance" is that they take these different, pre-existing devices and combine them into something new?
      John Zern
      • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

        @John Zern New? Like the tablet PC MS brought out 10 years ago? Or maybe the touchscreen phone, like the Palm Treo's? Ya, all new stuff and new uses...right?
        timspublic1@...
      • timspublic1, like

        @John Zern
        years ago they had touch screen PDA's, (PocketPC, Palm, ect) that ran programs you downloaded and installed and did the internet, and cell phones.

        So someone puts them together and they gets to call every part "original", and yet Palm does it then they're "coppying Apple"?

        I don't get what your saying.
        Will Pharaoh
    • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

      @Hasam1991,

      In technology everyone copies everyone. Why re-invent the wheel? You don't have to...just make it better.
      bmonsterman
      • Foss philosophy.

        Get someone's source code, improve it, they get your code back, improve on it. someone new gets it and uses it, improves it and everyone gains something. Someone uses it for a different purpose and adds to it, etc. Everyone wins unless you want to make a monopoly.
        Joe.Smetona
    • Apple TV is VERY Different than G TV

      @Hasam1991 Apple TV is a desktop (or iOS) extension for playing files on the TV. Google TV is a way of categorizing web video content for easy viewing on real TV's. Totally Different approach. Plus Google TV will open it's doors to apps which will hopefully usher in a whole new era (and hopefully reduce prices).
      jivester
      • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

        @jivester A new era of people playing Angry Birds on their TV?

        Please go away.
        His_Shadow
    • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

      @Hasam1991

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      And apart from that, you downloaded it in some illegal, copied version. <strong><a href="http://glaucomaeyedrops.com/">glaucoma eyes drops</a></strong> How can you possibly expect it to work 100%?

      Oh, and Hasam1991, why do you mean that they copy everything Apple does? Do you know what the idea behind Apple is? It is not to be <strong><a href="http://brighteyesdrops.com/">bright eyes drops</a></strong> innovative and make brand new products. No, it is to take already existing stuff and make it better.
      Lots of people get this confused.
      runeklan
  • RE: Android 3.1: Crowd-pleaser or heart-breaker?

    Answer: They're not. Apple didn't invent the computer, the mp3 player, the tablet or the smartphone.

    Why on earth can the sd card work in Android 2.x but not 3.x?
    bradavon