Google isn't one of the major exhibitors at CES 2011 in Las Vegas this week, but the company's Android 3.0 software has been the topic of a lot of conversations and served as a footnote on a lot of slides.
Many of the Android tablets that are being announced have an asterisk next to them: *Available with the release of Android 3.0 ("Honeycomb").
While CES was churning up news and product announcements, the Google Android team quietly posted a YouTube video previewing the Honeycomb software release.
The video opens with the message that it is "built entirely for tablet" and then shows a preview of screenshots and screencasts of what appears to be a 10-inch tablet running a version of Android with a dark blue theme consistent with the new colour scheme that debuted in Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread") in December.
The video shows:
- The ability to open multiple smartphone-size apps at a time and stack them next to each other (something Apple's iPad doesn't do)
- A full-size horizontal keyboard similar to the iPad's
- A slick visualisation of Google Books in action
- A tablet-optimised email client similar to the web version of Gmail for iPad
- A cool new tablet user interface (UI) for YouTube
- A full-screen video call using Google Talk
- A tablet version of Google Maps with 3D modelling and Street View
Notice that all of the apps in the demo (see video below) are internal Google software. This points to the fact that Google is still at the early stages in its tablet OS development and probably hasn't unleashed this on third-party software partners yet. However, the company needed to show that it's making progress in the tablet-focused UI and this demo is a first step.
Take a look: