Six reasons you'll love Android 3.0 Honeycomb

Google showed off Android 3.0 Honeycomb today, and it's a big improvement over the existing version of Android, particularly for tablets. Here are six reasons you'll love Honeycomb.

If you want a visual tour of Honeycomb, so you can see some of what I'm writing about, check out Computerworld's Visual tour: Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' has landed.

Improved task switching and multi-tasking

With Android today, there's no simple way to see what apps you're running and then to switch among them, as you can with desktop operating systems such as Windows and the Mac OS X. Honeycomb finally fixes that: Tap an icon on the new System Bar, and you'll see thumbnails of all of your currently running apps, and be able to switch among them.

Better widget capabilities

Honeycomb will allow for more sophisticated, better widgets that allow for better interaction with data and with you. For example, Google showed off a Gmail gadget that allows you to scroll through your inbox without having to launch the app itself. Consider that a proof of concept more than anything else --- expect developers to create some very nifty widgets for Honeycom.

Improved copy and paste

Copy and paste works in the current version of Android, but it can be kludgy, particularly when defining the text you want to copy. Honeycomb makes it much easier, with larger, easier-to-see arrows to define text. You'll also then be able to choose what to do with the defined text such as copying it, pasting it, sharing it, and so on, by selecting what you want to do from the Action Bar.

A much better Chrome

There's always been something important missing from Android's Chrome browser --- tabs. That's not surprising, given that Android 1 and 2 were developed for smartphones, which don't necessarily have enough screen real estate for tabs. But because Honeycomb has been optimized for tablets, there's more screen real estate. So Chrome in Honeycomb gets tabs.

There's more beyond that as well, including bookmark syncing with Google Chrome on your PC, and incognito mode.

Better notifications

Notifications are much improved. They're now delivered in the lower-right portion of the screen, and they include much more information and content, because of the extra screen real estate. It's not clear whether that will also hold true when Honeycomb is installed on smartphones.

Improved drag-and-drop and multi-touch

Expect there to be additional gestures and drag-and-drop capabilities. Google has shown off a new Gmail app using these so that you can, for example, move your mail between labels by dragging it.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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