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.
If you liked the post, you might find these interesting too:
- Google Android 3 Honeycomb announcement. Live chat
- Google Nexus Tablet with Android 3.x to be made by LG. Android 2.x tablets won’t upgrade to 3.0?
- Revisiting Android 3/Gingerbread details post. Some corrections, clarifications
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 hands-on video at #MWC11
- Google really doesn’t want Honeycomb on phones, won’t open-source it anytime soon