With the recent release of the Motorola Xoom, we wanted to add some more details about the state of Android currently. This past weekend, we experimented with the Xoom, and we can say that's it's by far the best Android tablet experience we've had.
With the recent release of the Motorola Xoom, Android has finally matured into the tablet space. Android 3.0 (also known as Honeycomb) has been designed with tablets in mind and takes advantage of the increased screen size to provide new experiences, while maintaining the Android ecosystem that millions have come to know and love. There have been several parts of the Android experience that have been modified for the tablet environment, including:
Bottom-Edge Status Bar
Found at the top of every Android phone, the Status Bar shows the time, your current network connection, and any notifications that you have outstanding. For tablets, this has been moved to the bottom of the screen and notifications have been made a much richer experience with larger graphics and more customizable text.
On-Screen Buttons for Home, Back and Multitasking
The basic navigation buttons provided on every phone are now made part of the bottom-edge status bar, leaving the front of the device without any hardware buttons at all. A new Multitasking button makes it easy to see which apps you've used recently, with thumbnails provided to make it even easier to spot the app you just left.
Context-Aware Action Bar
The top of the screen is still used on tablets, but now it provides actions based on your current activity. Removing the need for the menu button; this makes all interfaces more intuitive for the new tablet user.
Tablet Optimized Google Apps
Google has set the proper example by making it's own apps look and function great on the tablet form factor. Apps can function differently based on orientation, taking advantage of real estate without making the screen feel crowded.
Clearly Google is taking the tablet market seriously with Android 3.0, and there are already more tablets announced for this year. The G-slate by LG will be coming to T-mobile's 4G network later this year and it is certain many more will be announced in the next few months. So far no manufacturer has announced that they will be changing the standard Android 3.0 User Interface, which comes at a great relief to consumers and developers alike. This helps guarantee a consistent experience between tablets, and allows for updates to come quicker when newer versions of Android are released.
Other Recent Changes to Android
But tablets aren't the only recent changes to Android. Google has also improved their Application delivery mechanism with some big improvements to the Android Market. It's now completely accessible through any web browser at http://market.android.com. Once an app is selected, it can be sent to your device from the browser, no cables required. And there are lots of new ways for publishers to engage consumers, with more screenshots, more descriptive text and even a link to a YouTube video. In-app purchase support has also been announced for apps, with an SDK coming soon.comment