Today, at an Event at Google headquarters, Google showcased Honeycomb (Android 3.0), the latest Android release built from the ground up for tablets. Honeycomb has a completely redesigned user interface, with more interactive notifications and widgets, improved multi-tasking, and the latest and greatest Google Mobile services optimized for tablets, new browser, new virtual keyboard, and support for hardware accelerated graphics and 3D.
Google showed off some of these experiences today, but focused mostly on the 3D graphical capabilities the platform offers, including a newly-designed Google Maps, Google Books, Google Body 3D, and games such as Monster Madness and History Channel Great Battles: Medieval.
Google also briefly teased Google Music but didn't discuss it or provide release date. One area of clear superiority for Android is Google Maps. The version of Maps for Honeycomb is much richer than the comparable version of Maps for the iPad.
Google also showed off pre-release applications optimized for Honeycomb, from over 17 developers including:
- Disney Mobile
- The Economist
- Fuze box
- Glu Mobile
- Google Body
- Grocery iQ
- Pulse News
- Time Magazine
- Trendy Entertainment
- War Drum Studios
Details of other features:
- Multitasking is a primary feature, with easy access to all open- and recently open- apps from the home screen.
- Widgets can now be based on collections of data -- so it's like having apps in little windows, on your home screen. There are different kinds of widgets, too -- stacks, grids, scrollers.
- Honeycomb also has a new notifications system, which pops up Growl-like toast windows in the bottom right corner. Notifications can contain a lot of data, including profile photos if a friend is IMing you -- and they can be used for quick access to running apps, like media players.
- Hardware acceleration -- by simply adding a single line of code, 2D hardware acceleration can be added to existing Android apps.
- Renderscript -- Honeycomb has a new engine for powering 3D graphics, and looking at the demonstrations by War Drum Studios, it's seriously slick.
- Built-in video chat -- with a front-facing camera, Honeycomb supports video calls off the bat (using Google Talk).
Here's the full event video:
Here're some pictures of the interface:
There was even a brief demonstration of the two-way video chat capability with a slightly delayed appearance of popular musician Cee-Lo chatting with the Honeycomb team.
Multitasking interface, accessed from the home screen
Fruit Ninja, Android smartphone app running on Honeycomb
Sexy new camera interface
The Honeycomb media playing app (with shiny 3D graphics)
Smooth page turning!!
An educational 3D war game from War Drum Studios
A hack-and-slash from War Drum Studios
The CNN app for Honeycomb