Ever since Android Honeycomb for tablets was announced, those of us with smartphones were a little concerned. Would Android be truly fragmented into different versions based on the size of our screens? Would developers have to write separate apps for each?
Our fears were quickly put at ease, Google told us that Android will be re-unified with the version following Honeycomb, the version we now know to be “Ice Cream Sandwich”.
The primary differences between the tablet-based Honeycomb and the smartphone-based Gingerbread and Froyo are primarily in the UI. There are, however, a lot more things going on “under-the-hood” in Honeycomb, including optimizations for multi-core processors, GPU acceleration, and other enhancements that are more applicable to tablets than smartphones, but at its core it’s still Android — and should still work cross-platform.
We’ve seen people port Honeycomb to other devices (we even showed off a port running on the Nexus One), and with this this kind of porting comes tinkering. It was one such tinkerer that stumbled across something interesting.
Different devices look better (or worse) depending upon how their pixel density is set, just like your computer monitor looks best when set to its optimal resolution. This tinkerer was trying to determine what the best pixel density setting was for honeycomb running on his rooted Dell Streak 7 tablet.
By setting his pixel density below 160 he got the expected Honeycomb UI, but when he changed the setting above 160 his Honeycomb experience was replaced with the familiar Gingerbread UI.
Could this mean that all the UI work to get Honeycomb and Gingerbread to play nicely together is already done? Are we now just waiting for those “tablet optimizations” to be adapted for smartphones?