Android 3.2 gets open-sourced in part, update now rolling out to Wi-Fi Motorola Xoom tablets
Last week we first heard that the Android 3.2 update for the Motorola Xoom was supposedly due out “in a few days”. Those days seem to have passed, since the Android 3.2 update for Wi-Fi-only Motorola Xoom tablets has started rolling out in the US. You do have to keep in mind that the rollout may be staggered, and as such you may not have gotten a notification that it’s available just yet. It should come soon though.
This comes after Google has open-sourced the parts of this update that are covered by the GPL license. Don’t get too excited, this doesn’t mean that you’ll soon see developers tinkering around with Honeycomb code (the way they do with Gingerbread, for example). That’s simply since they still don’t have access to the majority of it. That, of course, is nothing unexpected. After all, Google has previously said that it won’t fully open-source Honeycomb. Android Ice Cream will be open-sourced however, just like phone-focused versions of the OS have always been. And that will be the first version of Android to run on tablets that will be open-sourced.
So that clears that up. As for the 3.2 update, it will bring Xoom owners in the US the ability to finally use the tablet’s microSD slot, which was dormant up until now. European Xooms had this introduced in their Android 3.1 update, but the functionality was left out of the North American Android 3.1 update for some reason.
The only other genuinely new feature of Android 3.2 that we know of so far is one that’s designed to ease the pain of the fact that there aren’t that many Honeycomb-specific apps just yet. You’ll be able to force apps designed for Android smartphones to ‘zoom’ to fill the tablet’s screen, alongside the ‘stretch’ action that so far has been the default in Honeycomb.
Up until now, when you ran an app designed for Android phones everything would be stretched to fill the screen. That sometimes works just fine, but other times it manages to break some of the UI elements of certain apps. That’s probably not going to happen anymore if you employ the new ‘Zoom to fill screen’ option (seen below).
This will essentially run the app at MDPI resolution (480×320, which is one of, if not the most widely spread resolution for Android phones) and upscale everything. That will result in some pixelation, perhaps, but it should make sure that every UI element is displayed properly. And it should help you run more apps on your Android tablet while you’re waiting for more tablet-specific apps to become available.
Android 3.2 is also the first version of Honeycomb to support screen resolutions lower than 1280×800, at least according to Huawei. The Chinese giant is getting ready to introduce its MediaPad 7-inch tablet that will run this version of the software. Previous versions were only optimized for the 1280×800 resolution that all current 10-inch tablets sport.
If that is indeed the case, the fact that Android 3.2 is now out should mean that we’re going to see many Android tablets smaller than 8.9 inches. And some already released devices such as HTC’s Flyer should probably get updated to Android 3.2 as well.