No CPU requirements for Android 3.0 Honeycomb? Yeah, right…

Google is such a tease, at least as far as Android 3.0 Honeycomb is concerned. Yesterday, a video went out on the Android Developers’ YouTube channel that, well, teased some of the new stuff that will come in Honeycomb. And, at some point after that, Google’s head of Android, Andy Rubin, decided to write a blog post on the Google Mobile Blog that basically reiterates most of the things we’ve seen in the video.

In case you have been living under a rock, or for some reason just haven’t read our post about the video (and you really should), here’s the gist of it, as well as of Google’s blog post. Honeycomb will bring refined multitasking, more elegant notifications, a new ‘3D’ experience for homescreen customization, and new, richer and more interactive widgets. The web browser will also be improved upon, with tabs, syncing with Google Chrome bookmarks, form auto-fill and an incognito mode for private browsing. And finally, Google Talk in Honeycomb will let you video and voice chat with people using PCs, tablets, and whatnot.

Do note one thing though: neither the video, nor the blog post constituted an official announcement of Honeycomb. In fact, they both count as previews. Which may mean that Honeycomb is still weeks, if not months away from being finished and ready to ship. If you’re not convinced, consider that there’s no Honeycomb ‘statue’ in the Google campus, and Gingerbread was finally officially released many weeks after the Gingerbread statue made its appearance.

Dan Morrill, Google’s Android Open Source & Compatibility Tech Lead, answered one of the key questions about Honeycomb late yesterday by tweeting that there will be no ‘hard’ minimum processor requirement for Honeycomb. Note his choice of words: “no hard … requirement”.

Now why does that sound familiar?

Because last summer he said more or less the same thing, in reply to a post by our own Staska who was quoting famous Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin’s statements about the ‘next major version of Android’ (that we now know is Honeycomb, and not Gingerbread; it is 3.0 though). Many of the things that Murtazin said back then panned out, including the branching of Android into two. Perhaps the only thing that didn’t happen was the launch in 2010, but that can perhaps be attributed to Murtazin’s sources mixing up Gingerbread with Honeycomb, as, judging from the state that Honeycomb is in even today, it’s rather unlikely that Google had at any time hoped to get it out last year.

Last summer, Eldar Murtazin clarified his statements to mean that there won’t, in fact, be any minimum requirements, but recommended hardware.

Which brings us back to the present, when Morrill’s tweet basically implies the same thing.

So, in other words, if you’d like to create a Honeycomb tablet with a 128 MHz processor, Google won’t stop you. BUT, and this is essential, we’re willing to bet that you would not get access to the Android Market and the Google Apps. Just like, unless you were Samsung, you didn’t get any of those if you created a tablet that runs anything other than Honeycomb.

So, nothing’s stopping you from putting a 128 MHz processor on a Honeycomb tablet, but Google will only be your friend if you go dual-core. Or something to that regard.

And believe it or not, this actually makes sense. As Android is open source, Google can’t stop you from using it on anything you like and however you like. They can, however, not offer you their apps, which aren’t open source. And the user experience on a Honeycomb-powered tablet with a 128 MHz processor would clearly be abysmal, so this is the only way that Google can try and control that to a certain extent.

I just wish they’d outright say it.

Author: Vlad Bobleanta

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  • Jarcikon

    I know you’re trying to provide an example with the 128Mhz thing, but what about some popular phones running at 550Mhz (MyTouch 3G, htc hero) or 600Mhz (Droid)? Will they be able to upgrade to Honeycomb? I think that’s the real question people have.

    I don’t believe for a second the rumors of a “minimum” (or even “recommended”) dual core 1Ghz processor requirement for Honeycomb. Not one existing phone meets that requirement. I doubt Google would release a new version of their OS with a redesigned tablet-friendly interface, then disallow their own apps from it for every existing phone and tablet on the market.

  • superlinkx

    Well, phones won’t be running Honeycomb, at least, not in the way tablets will. A lot of the UI stuff will probably not translate to phones, so less powerful graphics and processing chips could still run it in a “phone-friendly” version. Tablets will need to be running fairly powerful hardware to take full advantage of the honeycomb features, so a recommended requirement of 1GHz dual-core or similar could be a reality for tablets. Phones won’t need to be as powerful, so a lot of the 2nd gen phones (Nexus One and higher) should at least be able to run it decently.

  • gseth

    Earlier in a video it was said the same app would perform different in terms of visual UI when installed in 3.0 and in 2.3. Example would be the gmail app, it is embedded in the app api to alter its visual appearance in terms of its UI and behavior according to the Android version.

    All this confusion about the hardware requirements, nobody is bothered to check or ask if future applications actually use the dual core processor. As far as my knowledge goes a dual core processor is useless, unless the software is design to multi task and use both cores.

    If honeycomb is design from ground up in that aspect, it makes sense to have a minimum hardware requirement, but then again, other apps we find in the market will definitely not be optimized to use this dual core processor. In this case a 2ghz single core processor would benefit from a dual core 1 ghz processor, technically speaking.

    So even if Honeycomb is optimized to use the dual cores, this dual core processor is completely useless for the apps unless the apps are updated and designed with dual cores in mind. The existing apps would still be using a single core.

    Google instead of showing crappy previews which raises more questions than it answers, should come out in the open and just clear things up.

  • Brad Jobs

    Oh yeah, there is no minimum requirements for the Honeycomb itself. But who in his right frame of mind will manufacture such tablets with low CPU? Besides, apps for the tablets may require minimum hardware requirements.

  • Kyung Lah

    I am on VZW and happily rocking a Droid X. But I only sense huge problems with VZW handling hardware upgrades!!! “It was fine until… ” 70-680 640-802

  • Miles Reiter

    True, I don’t really see that dual core would benefit anything at all unless you did a lot of multitasking. Because while the Android market is getting better and better apps I haven’t seen an android game on the same level graphics wise as iOS games like infinity blade for instance. And that doesn’t require dual core either. So really the only benefit I can think of is if you want to do a bunch of multitasking.

  • Narek Bayanduryan

    So if honeycomb is better for a dual core processor than why would googles Nexus S have a single core processor?