Google's Android Honeycomb event: What surprises await us?

Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved. 

Android Honeycomb

Honeycomb, you're so close, we can almost taste you.

After giving developers a preview of the Android Honeycomb OS last week, Google's now set to take the shrinkwrap off its tablet-centric software. The Android team will host a Honeycomb-focused event this Wednesday, February 2. Billed as "A Taste of What's New From Android," the event promises to provide "an in-depth look at Honeycomb, Android ecosystem news and hands-on demos." 

Google Android Honeycomb Event

So what sweet Honeycomb secrets could be left for Google to spill? The developers' preview, after all -- available for public viewing here -- provided detailed information about the OS, its retooled design, and its many new features. It even included an early version of the Honeycomb software development kit, giving us a tantalizing glimpse at the system's metaphorical unmentionables.

Even before that peep show, Google had given us a pretty good idea of what Honeycomb was all about. Back at the beginning of January, the Android crew teamed up with Motorola to show off the Honeycomb-running Motorola Xoom tablet. A video and several hands-on demos whet appetites and sparked curiosity. That all added onto previous Honeycomb hints, including a brief on-stage tour of the then-unnamed Xoom during a mobile conference in December.

Wednesday, then, has to take the game up a notch. Google's already told us what Honeycomb can do. Something new -- some relatively large-scale revelation or demonstration -- has to be in store.

One likely possibility is that Google will fill us in on Android's future roadmap and how Honeycomb will fit into the equation. While some signs have popped up suggesting that Honeycomb will eventually run on smartphones, thus far, Google has focused its efforts on discussing the software's potential for tablet-sized devices. Wednesday, we might learn how Honeycomb will ultimately merge with the existing Android smartphone editions to create some sort of unified path (or how it won't -- hey, you never know). This certainly seems like something that'd qualify as "Android ecosystem news."

We could also see more details about the launch of the Xoom, which Google has identified as its flagship Honeycomb tablet. Last week, Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha said the Xoom would likely ship in late February. Even if we don't get a more definite date this week, we could learn the thus-far-unknown (though heavily rumored) specifics on pricing and data plans for the Xoom on Verizon. We could also find out whether there'll be a Wi-Fi-only version -- something plenty of users, including yours truly, are hoping to see.

Specifics aside, it seems almost certain that the Xoom will be a big part of Wednesday's hurrah. Google, after all, is promising "hands-on demos," and we know the Xoom is the tablet Android engineers have used for Honeycomb's creation. Back when the Xoom was announced, representatives said the device was still under development and not ready for widespread evaluation. If nothing else, it sure looks like Google plans for us all to see the Xoom in action -- in the hands of bloggers and reporters -- at this week's session.

Android Power Twitter

I'll be in Mountain View on Wednesday to take it all in; be sure to check back here midafternoon for my firsthand thoughts and reactions. You can also watch the event live for yourself at youtube.com/android; streaming begins at 10 a.m. PST.

In the meantime, make your predictions -- and let the betting begin.

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, on Twitter, or at eSarcasm, his geek-humor getaway.

Android Upgrades

Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

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