CES: Honeycomb – Not just for your tablet!

It’s finally here; Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) was announced (teased) and extensively demoed on Motorola’s flagship tablet, the XOOM, earlier this week at CES.  the community immediately fell in love with the reimagined tablet interface, but one question hung about the techno-sphere like a latent fart: WHAT ABOUT MY PHONE?!  Thankfully, we have a little more information regarding the usage of Android 3.0 on smartphones thanks to none other than Matias Duarte, head of interface and design for Google’s Android OS.  The guys over at Engaget were kind enough to record the interview with Mr. Duarte, and the from what we’ve seen so far, Android 3.0 is THE milestone update we’ve craved.  Hit the link for some key new features (impressions included)as well as a video of the interview courteoussey of Engaget.

The first, and potentially the most outwardly recognizable, is the removal of all external system buttons.  Like the tablet version, Mr. Duarte confirmed that the smart phone version of Honeycomb will included a system for virtual button controls instead of the existing hardware button requirement.  I’m most excited about this decision, as the ever rotating home row buttons have absolutely NO carry over from manufacturer to manufacturer, carrier to carrier.  This, in my opinion, will increase the overall user experience across all manufactures and carriers, unifying the primary method of interaction on the Android platform.

In an effort to improve the existing method of multitasking, and to coincide with the abolition of the hardware buttons, Google will be including the one-tap live preview feature that can currently be found on the tablet edition of the OS.  While I personally never felt inconvenienced by having to long-press the “Home” key, Mr. Duarte admitting that the current iteration is “clunky”, or rather improperly implemented.  I’ll have to reserve judgement on whether or not this feature makes any significant impact in daily usage.

The final bullet worth mentioning in the revamped UI is the unification of menu items, an attempt to bring to focus oft hidden menus.  Honeycomb will, according to Duarte, move the location of “Menu” items to the main application bar on both tablets and smart phone devices.  Being an Android “power-user”, I’m not sure how I feel about this change.  Depending on the implementation, this could in fact require MORE effort to access vital menu items within various applications.

Below, you can find a 25-ish minute video of the interview, stolen viciously from Engaget (I’m a pirate.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.


One Response to CES: Honeycomb – Not just for your tablet!

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention CES: Honeycomb – Not just for your tablet! « FoneFrenzy – Mobile Technology Blog -- Topsy.com

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