Google has given the world an extensive demonstration of Android 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb, a new incarnation of the mobile OS designed specifically for tablets.
At a press event at Google's Mountain View headquarters, Google man Hugo Barra showed off Honeycomb's so-called "holographic" UI as well as several new Google applications and services that run atop the OS.
The new interface, Barra said, offers a multitasking button for browsing currently running applications; widgets for quick access to various services, including Gmail and Google Calendar; and notifications that pop up at the bottom of the tablet display, alerting you to new OS events.
Separate from the Gmail widget, the OS offers a new incarnation of Google's full-screen Gmail app. Loading up a new Gmail, Barra showed off split-panel interface, which lets you drag and drop messages into folders. This sort of drag and drop, he said, is built into the OS.
The OS also offering a new animation framework and a new graphics engine designed to improved graphic transitions and 3D interfaces. Renderscript, the new graphics engine, underpins the new book "carousel" that lets you flip through titles within Google Books, much like you'd flip through albums on Apple iTunes. Similar 3D interfaces has been added to Google's own music application, Google Maps, and new application known as Google Body, which provides an interactive 3D model of the human body.
Barra – Google's director of products for mobile – then demonstrated a new camera application, which offers a new UI and is designed to work in tandem with front and rear cameras. Yes, Honeycomb handles realtime video chat as well, and he demonstrated this with a brief call across Google's campus. Then, at the end of the event, in an Intel-esque effort to be as hip as possible, he dialed up pop star of the moment Cee Lo Green.
Barra also said Google has gone to great lengths to ensure that existing handset Android apps will run on the new tablet-centric platform. And to prove this, he fired up an old Android game known as, um, Fruit Ninja. But, of course, the platform is designed to run entirely new applications built specifically for tablets. Today, CNN unveiled a video- and pic-happy Honeycomb application that will be released later in the year.
You can see a short demo from Google here:
After demoing Honeycomb, Google announced several changes to the Android Market. The company is now offering an Android Market Web Store, which lets you browse and purchase applications via a browser rather than the old Android client that's loaded on handsets. How very Google. Via the web store, you can purchase apps from a desktop or notebook, and Google will automatically load the apps onto your phone.
Google first demoed the web store in May, at its annual developer conference. The company maintains a persistent connection to user Android phones that allows it to not only remotely remove applications from user devices but remotely install them as well. The INSTALL_ASSET tool, for loading apps, was revealed by an independent security researcher this past summer.
Today, the company also introduced in-app purchasing and "buyer currency" support, meaning developers can allow buyers to pay in currencies other than the one the developer users.
This past fall, various reports indicated Google was hard at work on a tablet-happy incarnation of Android under the Honeycomb name, and in early December, Android project leader Andy Rubin publicly revealed a Motorola tablet prototype running the unfinished OS. After the new year, Google released a (brief) video previewing Honeycomb, and countless manufacturers announced Honeycomb tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Late last month, the company released a preliminary SDK for the platform, meant for testing applications and "getting familiar" with the APIs. ®