Live Blog: Google Launches Honeycomb, Android OS for Tablets

I am here at the Googleplex waiting for the launch of Google’s tablet optimized Android OS, nicknamed, Honeycomb. A lot of reporters here from different outlets, though it is a much smaller event compared to Apple’s iPad press event. We are going live in about 5 minutes.

10:01 – Andy Rubin is on stage and excited to present honeycomb. really really cool features and demos. showing Motorola (s mmi) tablet.

10:05 – Cloud is the central point where apps share information. Seamless integration between phones, tablets and Google TV. I really true believe Android team is the hardest working team in the mobile.

10:06 – Hugo is on stage. “The Android project is committed to open development and creating an ecosystem to innovate. With Honeycomb we are enabling agile style of development that Internet is used to.”

10:07 – Hugo is showing off new features and doing the demo. It is a new interface for tablets. There is a visual multi-tasking button and there is a back button. “Widgets system is now backed by collections of data. Easy to scroll and manage information.”

10:09 – A closer look at notifications. “What we have done is built some templates to create richer, advanced notifications. For instance, headphone notifications, which when I click on can help me navigate the tracks or stop the music.”

10:10 – I get a feeling of a tablet OS that takes many cues from Windows OS. There is a bottom bar, ala Windows 7. Pop up styled notifications and other such elements. It actually works.

10:11 – “We want to encourage developers to build tablet optimized experiences. We have created new elements such as application fragments.” Demonstrating the new Gmail app which uses fragments.

10:12 – Om: Another cool action is to pick up gmail messages and move into a folder. Dragging actions. I like that they have spent a lot of time trying to make navigation elements simple to use and easy to access. Of course reality is different from demo.

10:14 – “We have new animation framework. More transitions and polish.” Showing the YouTube app.

10:15 – “We have optimized performance at many levels to support multi-core processors. There is a lot more 3D effects built into the OS and you can see them at work in the music application and the maps.”

10:18 – Thomas Williamson, a game developer is on stage to show off 3-D games. First up is Monster Madness.

10:20 – Hugo is back on stage, talking about media capabilities. There’s a really slick UI to expose controls when taking pictures. Now showing off video chat.

10:22 – Hugo can’t find his friends, but finally got a video chat going with Anand. Looks pretty slick.

10:24 – Om: CNN is showing a new app that is built  for Honeycomb. It will launch in the near future. It is a very Flipboard-styled app which is amazing, because this is just a straight on rip-off. CNN can’t do anything original anymore. Copycat News Network?

10:28 – Om: The CNN app allows you to capture photos and videos and submit it to iReport. I like that aspect of the application. CNN’s app will initially launch on the Motorola Xoom tablet, but will become available on other Honeycomb tablets in the future.

10:31 – Hugo is back on stage and talking again. Introduces Chris Yerga, Android Engineering Director for Cloud Services, to talk about the Android Market.

10: 33 – Chris: “We are making some changes. We are giving ways for users to discover apps and give them easy way to buy those apps. For developers, we are making it simple for them.”

10:34 – “Today we’re launching the Android Market Web Store. Now you can go to the browser and discover and get apps from the browser and install it to their devices directly from the web. There is a variety of different ways users can discover applications. Android Market Home Page has a lot of promotional banners.”

10:35 – Om: It is funny considering how much it is inspired by the iTunes store. Hey there is something to those dedicated desktop clients ;-) I still like the over-the-air delivery of the apps.

10:36 – “Great thing about the market — only compatible devices will get the app delivered over the email.” Om: funny thing is they are making the presentation using a MacBook Pro. #freenemies.

10:40 – Showing Twitter integration from Android Web Market – a way to share interesting apps with friends. Om: how about sharing on Facebook?

10: 42 – Android Web Market is now live: Chris is now switching the conversation focus to application purchasing. “Google has global developer and customer base. We’re announcing buyer currency support to the Market. Now developers can enter explicit prices in the currencies. It is going to be rolled out in phased manner.”

10:45 – “The final thing: we are announcing support for in-app purchases are coming to Android.” Can be used for virtual goods, additional game levels, etc…

10:46 -Bart DeCrem of Disney Mobile is taling about its apps. 60 million downloads. They are now launching Tap Tap Revenge, Radio Disney on Android. Jelly Car is coming to Android later this year.

10:50 – Demo of in-app purchase on Tap Tap Revenge. Looks seamless.

10:52 – Chris is back on stage. “Today we are releasing developer documentation on the new features.” Now doing another video chat demo. Sounds like Google is wrapping up after this. No Q&A, but audience is invited to try devices in the back room.