Android Honeycomb on Motorola Xoom
TechChrunch had some hands-on with HoneyComb on Motorolas Xoom and they like it a lot. Click the link to watch a video of the UI in action.
The UI looks alright I suppose, While I'm not endorsing the 20-icon grid of the iPad, I think the entire widget thing is a bit too much. I don't want a widget of my books on the home screen, and who would? The one thing I can agree with is with your calendar, where you can quickly see todays schedule. Here are some of the highlights:
The Action Bar
One of the most drastic changes is the move from dedicated hardware buttons to access Menu options to the ‘Action Bar’ a UI element at the top of the screen with options that change depending on whatever application you’re using.
I think it's a pretty nice idea, and it makes for a consistent place where some contextual tasks can be placed. Hopefully this is utilized well by developers.
Kicks the pants off of the iPad’s browser. Tabs are great, and the fact that the tablet browser syncs with your desktop version of Google Chrome is very nice. Scrolling felt smooth. And there’s Incognito Mode.
We’ve seen it showcased a few times now, but Gmail for Honeycomb is awesome - it’s like the iPad-optimized web version of Gmail, but without the slight lag you still find on browser apps. I want it badly.
I wonder if it's something like, you know, the native support of Gmail in the built in Mail client on the iPad?
The UI of Android Market has been revamped for the tablet. I think it’s pretty ugly: the ‘Android Green’ striped lines feel almost like placeholder graphics and it doesn’t look nearly as attractive as iOS’s App Store. But it gets the job done.
It's basically like a bad ripoff of the App Store. But I'm not going to hold that against Android. Some times, something gets so entrenched that anyone wanting to make an alternative almost always end up making a copy. This is one of the main complaints I've had for Linux over the years - they spend too much time trying to look and feel like Windows - as to make for an easy transition from Windows.
It hasn’t gotten much press, but there’s a new application included as part of the Honeycomb suite of Google applications: Movie Studio. I didn’t spend too much time in this, but it includes the features you’d expect: transitions between clips, text overlays, and so on. The UI isn’t what you’d call pretty and it may leave some people scratching their heads, but it’s a nice app to have.
Yeah, while the UI seems awkward, this is a perfect application for the the tablet form factor. Imagine iMovie on your iPad, editing video that has been shot with your iPhone (connected wirelessly to your iPad etc) or even using video clips from iMovie on your desktop.
In general Honeycomb felt snappy - you can see in the video that there’s never really any lag. I did notice some slight jittering when dragging widgets, but was later shown a more recent build of the OS that seemed to fix this. And the fact that the Xoom has 1GB of RAM means that you aren’t going to find your browser tabs emptying the way they do on the current iPad.
Yeah, RAM is important, and while the refreshing of your tabs in iOS is a slight inconvenience, the Xoom didn't seem to be any snappier than the iPad as far as I could tell.
Honeycomb also features a new notification system that reminds me of Growl on Mac OS X. New updates slide into view in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, and you don’t have to squint to see them the way you do on Android phones. Again, very nice.