Android This Week: Honeycomb Smartphones; PSP Games; Custom Tablet ROMs

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This past Friday, Google sent press invites for a Honeycomb event taking place at the company’s headquarters this coming Wednesday. Since I just returned home to Pennsylvania from the West Coast, I’m passing my invite along to a GigaOM colleague, but Google will be live-streaming the event on its YouTube channel at 1:00 p.m. EST (10:00 a.m. PST), so we can all follow along. According to the invitation, the Android team will offer “an in-depth look at Honeycomb, Android ecosystem news and hands-on demos.”

But that event is this coming week, and this column is a summary of the prior week. It turns out there was related news this past week that’s very relevant to Honeycomb, or Android 3.0. Based on a tip to Engadget, it was discovered that the emulator included with the Android 3.0 Software Development Kit has a mode for smartphone display resolutions. Many have wondered if Honeycomb would be relegated to large tablets, but this find indicates that WVGA resolution handhelds could also use Honeycomb in the future. Even current smartphones could see upgrades: the Android developer blog states that Android 3.0 can run on the single-core CPUs used in many high-end smartphones available today.

This week also saw Sony’s announcement of the next PlayStation Portable device, which at first glance has nothing to do with Google Android. However, Sony said it plans to make its games more hardware independent and said that some gaming titles will become available for Android-powered handsets and tablets running Android 2.3 or better. By porting Sony PSP titles to Android, Sony gains a far wider distribution channel as several hundred thousand Android devices are activated daily. Android owners stand to win as well; compared to the number of high-quality games available for Apple’s iOS devices, Android is lacking.

I mentioned travel earlier in this post, and it relates to Android this week as well because I broke a cardinal rule: On the night before my trip, I attempted my first flash of a custom kernel and ROM on my Samsung Galaxy Tab. I’ve flashed my Nexus One more than 100 times, but the process and required software is slightly different for the Tab. As a result, my inexperience resulted in an endless boot loop and other problems. After nearly eight hours of tinkering and research, I was able to restore the device back to its original state. I consider the process a great learning experience and I’m now ready to pick up where I left off. A custom kernel I found at MoDaCo shows a significant performance boost. Since I have no travel scheduled this week, there’s less pressure to get the Tab flashed by a certain time or date!

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