Photos: Android 3.0 - what's under Honeycomb's hood?
Android 3.0 is sweet on tablets - but what else does it have to offer?
Android 3.0 - aka Honeycomb - is a new version of Google's mobile OS that has been optimised for larger-screen devices, particularly tablets, such as Motorola's forthcoming Xoom. The new OS includes enterprise-friendly administration features - such as encrypted storage and password expiration - as Google looks to tap into growing demand for tablets in business
Google has released a preview of the Android 3.0 SDK to enable developers to get busy testing apps on Honeycomb, so what new features can we expect from Google's tablet-friendly OS?
Android 3.0 - holographic UI
Honeycomb has what Google describes as a new holographic UI design, pictured above. Apps written for Android 3.0 will be able to use an extended set of UI objects, according to Google, and tap into more powerful graphics and enhanced media capabilities than devices running other iterations of Android.
Android 3.0 features a system bar at the bottom of the screen to give users quick access to notifications, system status updates and soft navigation buttons.
While the system bar is always present, it can be dimmed to enable full-screen viewing for content such as videos.
The UI also features an action bar at the top of the screen. This bar is displayed when an app is running, giving access to contextual options, navigation, widgets or other types of content - depending on the app being used.
Android 3.0 - multitasking with Recent Apps
The system bar on Honeycomb also features a Recent Apps list - to improve the experience of multitasking on Android 3.0. Recent Apps also shows tasks that are underway and enables users to jump from one app context to another, displaying a snapshot of the state of the app when the user last viewed it.
Android 3.0 - customisable homescreens
Honeycomb includes five customisable homescreens which users can customise by selecting and arranging widgets and app shortcuts, and choosing different wallpapers. Homescreens can be viewed in either portrait or landscape orientation. The interface for navigating between different homescreens is pictured above.
Each homescreen includes a launcher for access to all installed applications, as well as a search box for universal search of apps, contacts, media files, web content and more.
Android 3.0 - richer homescreen widgets
Honeycomb also gives Android developers more options when it comes to creating homescreen widgets, pictured above - such as enabling widgets that let users flip through collections of content as 3D stacks, grids or lists; and giving developers new ways to let users interact with widgets, such as using touch gestures to scroll and flip the content displayed in a widget.
Android 3.0 - keyboard, copy and paste tweaks
Google has tweaked the virtual keyboard on Android 3.0 to improve the speed and accuracy of text input on devices with larger screens. Changes include reshaped and repositioned keys and the introduction of some new keys - such as Tab. Keys can also be touch-held to access menus for special characters, and to switch text-voice input modes from a button in the system bar.
Copy and paste has also had a spit and polish - with tweaks to the interface for text selection.
When entering or viewing text, users can select a word by pressing and holding, and then adjust the selected area if needed by dragging a set of bounding arrows to new positions, as shown above. Various actions can then be selected from the action bar, such as copy to the clipboard, share, paste, web search or find.
Android 3.0 also allows users to connect a full physical keyboard to their device, via either USB or Bluetooth.
Android 3.0 - updated browser
The Android browser has also been updated in Honeycomb, with an eye to making use of the extra screen real estate.
New features in the browser include multiple tabs, shown above, replacing browser windows and an incognito mode that allows anonymous browsing. Boomarks and history are displayed and managed in a single unified view, and there's improved zoom and viewport mode for viewing non-mobile sites, overflow scrolling and support for fixed positioning.
Android 3.0 - camera, gallery, email, contacts, connectivity tweaks
The standard camera application has also been redesigned to take advantage of larger screens, and to give users quick access to functions such as exposure, focus, flash, zoom and the front-facing camera.
In the gallery application, Google said users can view albums and other collections in full-screen mode, with easy access to thumbnails for other photos in the collection.
Other additions to the Android experience with Honeycomb include a two-pane view in the email application, to make it easier for users to view and organise emails. The app lets users select one or more email messages, then select an action from the action bar, such as moving them to a folder. Users can also sync attachments for later viewing, and keep track of email using a homescreen widget.
Honeycomb also offers a two-pane view in the standard contacts app to make it easier to locate and organise contacts. The contacts app features a fast scroll function and improved formatting of international phone numbers. Contact information is presented in a card-like UI, which Google said makes it easier for users to read and edit contacts.
Connectivity options have also been given a boost - with built-in support for Media/Photo Transfer Protocol, to enable users to sync media files instantly with a USB-connected camera or desktop computer. Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity have also been tweaked, with a new combo scan to reduce wi-fi scanning times across bands and filters, and support for Bluetooth tethering so more types of devices can share the network connection of an Android-powered device.