Android 3.0 Honeycomb brings holographic interface, Chrome-like browser to tablets

Roll up, tablet fans. Google's just released some tantalising information about Android 3.0 Honeycomb -- the operating system designed specifically to power the next wave of tablets.

Roll up, tablet fans. Google's just released some tantalising information about Android 3.0 Honeycomb -- the operating system designed specifically to power the next wave of tablet PCs.

The company has published a teaser video showing the design of the user interface and some of the OS' swankiest features. It also outlined some of Honeycomb's finer features on the Google Mobile Blog.

According to Andy Rupin, Google's VP of engineering in charge of Android, Honeycomb is designed from the ground up to support devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets, though we wouldn't be surprised if the OS also cropped up on a few netbooks.

Honeycomb features a new, so-called 'holographic' user interface that's slicker than an otter's armpit. Like previous iterations of the OS, users can switch between screens of icons by swiping a finger, but customisation of each screen seems to have been improved. Users can now enjoy a pseudo 3D experience, zooming in to get a closer look at grouped apps, widgets, wallpapers and so on.

Crucially, Honeycomb allows users to browse the full Web. Its integrated browser, which looks to have been improved significantly, resembles the desktop version of Google's Chrome browser and even features tabs, meaning it's now easier to manage multiple Web pages in a single browsing session.

Other features from previous versions of the Android OS get a spit and polish for Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Google says Honeycomb features "refined multi-tasking, elegant notifications" and, crucially, access to the Android Market, where users can download new apps for their tablet.

The new OS will come with Google Maps 5 as standard, which allows 3D interactions and offline readibility. Google will also bundle its eBooks app and Google Talk, which allows users to video and voice chat to others using a Google Talk-enabled device.

A variety of manufacturers have confirmed they'll be building tablets with Android 3.0. Our crack squad of reporters at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show have already laid eyes on the Motorola Xoom and one from Toshiba, and we predict a veritable flood of copycat devices will crop up in the days and months to come.

Check out some stills and Google's teaser video of Honeycomb below and let us know how psyched (or not) you are in the comments below.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb's user interface is designed to take advantage of portable devices with larger screens, including tablet PCs.

Honeycomb lets users drag and drop apps into shortcut groups and to zoom in on those groups in a pseudo 3D fashion.

The Honeycomb browser features tabs for easier multi-page Web surfing.

Honeycomb features a redesigned YouTube interface.

Google Talk comes as standard.

 

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