Honeycomb For Tablets Spied, Brings Google Talk Video Chat

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Google may have cut the leash on Honeycomb a bit early as a promotional video showing the features of Android 3.0 briefly appeared on the Android Developer YouTube channel before being pulled. Engadget was quick to get a backup copy and has the full video on display. I caught a glimpse and here’s what I saw, although I recommend you take a gander at the full 92 second clip.

  • Larger widgets on home screen which coexist with Android application shortcuts and provide glanceable information without having to open an app. I think widgets are one of the key advantages Android holds over iOS at the moment and Google is wise to leverage them for its tablet operating system.
  • Unlike the current multi-page native browser found on Android devices, Honeycomb brings true multi-tabbed browsing, just as some third-party browsers such as Dolphin HD, do today. The browser looks more like Chrome in that regard.
  • An optimized Google Books app with visual page animations indicates that Google is ready to really go after the growing e-book market.
  • Gmail gets an overhaul with smart sliding panes for inbox, messages and content. The interface reminds me of Twitter on the iPad, which uses a similar slide experience for virtual screen expansion.
  • The new YouTube video app shows the video library in a 3-D-like wall, similar to the photo Gallery in Android 2.2, although it doesn’t appear that videos are “stackable” by category or any other means.
  • Video chat won’t be relegated to third parties such as Skype, Tango and others: Honeycomb brings Google Talk video chat between tablets and desktops.

Although the new optimizations for large screen devices are welcome, it’s nice to see some of the best bits of Android are still there. Aside from the widget support, I see the native sharing feature made the cut: there’s no need for sharing bookmarklets and shortcuts because Android integrates third-party apps for sharing URLs, photos and more. All of a sudden, my Samsung Galaxy Tab with Android 2.2 just got a little stale!

Image credit: Engadget

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