Google recently released the Android 3.0 Honeycomb SDK preview, granting us access to a rather poorly performing emulator. Nevertheless, through the emulator we get a good sense for the changes coming to the next version of Android, both for tablets and for smartphones (the latter of which is due out later this year).
For example, there will be a new way to manage your homescreens, making it a lot easier to move around multiple widgets and shortcuts without having to do them one at a time. We’ll also see an instant way to jump into the multitasking menu with the launcher placed at the bottom of the screen. This is a vast improvement over the tap-and-hold multitasking function of Android, which takes too long. Also on the bottom of the screen is the new notification system which puts little icons near the clock that can open up to reveal information about a new email, text message, or missed call. Gone is the need for OEMs to include hardware buttons if they want (which will make for some awesome buttonless hardware), because Honeycomb will include the Home and Back button on the bottom of the screen. We’ll also see redesigns of many of the built in programs of Android to allow for quicker access to regularly used functions, limiting the need to dive into a hidden menu system. Overall, we’re super excited for what Android 3.0 will bring to our phones.