Earlier this week, Google offered the first real taste of Honeycomb. Though we'd previously seen short video clips and images, it wasn't until Tuesday's event that we were able to see Android 3.0 in action.
Watching the live demonstrations, I could envision thousands of Galaxy Tab owners glancing at their tablets, wondering if or when it will see Honeycomb. And, of course I'm sure that plenty of Android phone customers are hoping to get the same experience. But will Honeycomb end up on smartphones? Or is it a tablet-only platform? The answer is somewhere in between.
Though a Google spokesman told PCMag yesterday that Honeycomb was only for tablets, he also said that some features from the update "will arrive on phones over time."
Looking at the official Honeycomb features page on the Android blog, we can see that Honeycomb is "specifically optimized for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets." Considering how much data (widgets, folders, and shortcuts) you can place on the desktop, it's pretty obvious you won't be able to do the same on a 4-inch display. Yet, that's not to say we won't end up with the enhanced notifications or a persistent action bar on our handsets.
While a lot of Honeycomb's focus is on getting the overall user experience to feel more natural and intuitive, there are a few features that bring added functionality to Android. For example, it's hard to imagine Google keeping video chat restricted to tablets. And the same goes for the redesigned keyboard and improved copy and paste options.
I suspect that some, if not all, of Honeycomb's basic tools and applications will trickle down to handsets. Much like Google did with splitting off Google Maps, Gmail, and YouTube, it's quite possible we'll see individual features released with optimization for Froyo or Gingerbread. I'd love to see a variant of the new calendar and Gmail widgets on my handset, with scrolling and flicking.
In all likelihood, the independent developer community will rip Honeycomb apart, extracting as much as they can to bring it to handsets. And if anyone can cram Honeycomb onto a phone, it's the team at Cyanogen.
On the Google side of things, look for Ice Cream Sandwich to have pieces of Honeycomb. As we get further into 2011, the new dual-core phones should be equipped with more than enough to handle animations, carousels, and other graphics-heavy demands. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to imagine support for hardware acceleration or multicore architectures in the next release.
With all of the great new features in Honeycomb, I'd like to know what your favorite is. What part of Android 3.0 would you most like to see on your phone?