Xoom Software Update Available, But It’s Not Enough


Motorola’s Xoom tablet owners have a software update waiting for them Thursday, per Verizon Wireless’s support site for the device. The tablet will notify users when the 28 MB file is available for download, according to the carrier, suggesting a rollout in waves. How many waves there are is up for debate. as analysts have pegged Xoom sales at low numbers, ranging from 25,000 to 120,000 sales so far for the first Google Honeycomb tablet.

I recently returned my Xoom review unit to Verizon, so I’m not able to test the upgrade. However, on paper, nothing suggests any of my major dislikes of the tablet or platform are addressed. Honeycomb still doesn’t appear to be ready for primetime due to application crashes, general instability and a lack of useful software titles in the Android Market made for larger displays. Those criticisms apply equally to the G-Slate, another Honeycomb tablet I recently reviewed. But the Xoom has a few more issues, and this software update addresses neither.

Specifically, Motorola’s tablet still isn’t able to use Verizon’s LTE 4G network, which will happen after device owners send in their Xoom to have the LTE hardware added. There’s no mention of LTE support in the release notes for this software update. Nor can Xoom owners use the microSD card slot for expanding memory or for easy transfer of data from another device. Instead, here’s what’s new to the Xoom after this software update, version HMJ07B, is installed, per the release notes (PDF):

Web Browsing and Data Access

  • Access and stay connected to Wi-Fi networks with added Proxy support.
  • SSL data transfer with websites is now supported.
  • WPA Pre-Shared Key pass-phrases are now supported when using the device as a Mobile Hotspot.
  • Supports Google Widevine DRM and HDCP.

Email and Messaging

  • POP3 HTML emails will display in their entirety.

Call Features

  • Bluetooth is now supported in Google Talk.

Additional Device Features

  • Encrypted passwords can be entered during power up.
  • Calendar events will remain up to date after an installed software update.
  • Application storage errors will not appear unless the device has reached maximum storage capacity.
  • Safely dock the Motorola Xoom into the docking adapter without interruption.
  • Ability to add and use a Bluetooth mouse.
  • A shortcut key for the Bluetooth keyboard has been added.
  • View and import pictures from digital cameras with Picture Transfer Protocol.
  • When using the device in accessibility mode, menus will no longer prompt with sounds.
While these are welcome changes — particularly the Bluetooth and wireless bits, in my opinion — I don’t expect Xoom sales to be significantly impacted, as no follow-up review would likely be different from the initial review. The real catalyst to jumpstart Honeycomb sales likely has to come from Google directly in the form of a bigger Honeycomb update to boost performance and address application crashes. If I’m right, we’ll hear about that at Google’s I/O developer event, which takes place in the second week of May. Until then, the Xoom gets incrementally better, but not by much.

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