Google unveiled the newest version of its Android operating system today. It’s Android 3.0 and it’s called Honeycomb. The event took place on YouTube (which, of course, Google owns). The event may have lacked some of the luster of recent Apple events (like the flashy iPhone 4 unveiling), but the product being introduced was no less impressive than anything Apple is doing lately.
If you’re already the owner of an Android phone or tablet, you’re probably familiar with the history of the operating system. Names like Gingerbread and Froyo are familiar to you. If you’re new to Android, all you really need to know is that it’s the operating system that runs phones like the Samsung Galaxy S and HTC Evo 4G.
What’s New in Honeycomb?
Honeycomb is designed with tablets in mind. There are new buttons for multi-tasking and notifications. Since tablets have larger screens than phones, there’s more room for open apps and widgets.
There are now templates, which allow developers to create richer and better notifications. The most notable difference is that you now see pictures of people who are messaging you.
Honeycomb also has better performance, particularly with regards to 2D and 3D graphics. Google clearly recognizes that gaming is a major reason why people are buying Android phones and tablets and they want to make sure that game graphics are as smooth and high-resolution as possible. The graphics in Honeycomb are also very fluid as you transition between apps and widgets.
We saw a brand new camera UI, which was cool. Honeycomb will support video chat on devices that have front-facing cameras. This is Google’s answer to Apple’s FaceTime chat (which is on the iPhone 4 and is expected to be on the iPad 2 when it’s announced soon). Video chat is possible on Android devices through Google Talk.
We also were introduced to the Android Market Web Store. Now it’s possible to browse a buy apps on a computer, rather than on your mobile device. App purchases automatically and wirelessly sync to your Android mobile device. The site is live now at market.android.com.
We also got a look at Google Body, which was described as the Google Maps of human anatomy (ou can use it to look up various health and body-related questions) and CNN iReport, an app that allows regular people to upload photos and videos and take part in the news creation process.