Android 3.0- the tablet optimized-version of the world's leading smartphone platform just had a major reveal today at Google's big event. Today saw the launch of the Android market web store and CNN iReport for Android. They also spilled the beans on a bunch of new Android Honeycomb features. Here are the highlights:
Home:The whole Android home screen has been revamped. The lower left hand corner has a back button, home button, and a multitasking button that gives you a visual preview of recently launched apps. The bottom right hand corner contains updates on active apps and your time / status info. The remainder of the display is open for apps and widgets.
Widget: Developers can now back their widgets up with collections of data. For example, the Gmail widget will actually allow you to scroll through your live inbox. Another example is the grid widget for bookmarks, that lets you flick scroll up and down a grid of your favorite pages. There are stack widgets for searching through apps, photos and Youtube videos. Think of Honeycomb widgets as live tiles on crack.
Multitasking: Live apps will show up in your update tab at the bottom right. You'll be able to thumb over apps (like your media player) to open up a small mini-window with access to certain controls. You'll be able to open and close apps from this pane, and flick through recently used apps in the Multitasking pane on the left side of the display.
The Quick Access Panel: Tired of delving into the settings tab to switch between WiFi networks or to toggle airplane mode? The Quick Access panel rests on the lower right hand corner and allows you to manage system settings without leaving the home screen.
Legacy Apps: All apps made to Google's current specifications will work on any Honeycomb tablet. Google demonstrated this by pulling up an app built before 3.0's existence to show how well it resized for the larger display.
Google Maps: Is about to get incredible. You'll be able to zoom, rotate and hold the map from whatever point you wish. When you zoom in closer (but not to street view) the Maps app will auto-render the frames of buildings in the area to give you an idea of the topography.
Video Chat: Supposedly has image stabilization built into it. They demonstrated this several times. The video never seemed very bouncy, but image quality and latency were still far from ideal.
So that's Google Honeycomb. We'll get a chance to play with it sometime mid-to-late February when the Xoom launches. Moto's new tablet will also be at MWC in two weeks- and it might even work this time!