What's so special about Android 3.0 (AKA 'Honeycomb')

Android 3.0 is designed for tablets

Android 3.0 — or "Honeycomb" — is the first version of Google's mobile platform optimised for use on tablets. Until now, users of Android tablets have had to use an interface designed for much smaller screens, or, in some cases, a user-interface overlay designed by individual vendors to make the platform easier to use on tablets.

The Android interface has been redesigned to take advantage of the larger screens of tablets compared to the smartphones that have until now been the most common devices to run Android.

New UI features include an "action bar", a contextual option group displayed at the top of the screen, five customisable home screens, recent apps for easier multitasking, a redesigned on-screen keyboard, a new browser and an improved copy and paste function.

One notable improvement is the redesigned message-notification system. Instead of a pull-down menu from the top, notifications are now a pull-up list from the bottom. Just like in Microsoft Windows, you'll see a pop-up (one Google described as un-intrusive, but that might depend upon your perspective) appear at the bottom right of the screen in landscape orientation, which was how Google demonstrated everything. The pro is that you see more information in each notification, and the messages disappear quickly.

Android 3.0 offers an updated set of home screen widgets redesigned for use on larger screens. Several new widget types are available, including a 3D stack, search box, a date/time picker, number picker, calendar, and a popup menu.

Google has also introduced a new version of the Android Market designed for access via the Web. Available now at market.android.com, the Web-version of Market provides a new way to search for content and install it directly to your smartphone or tablet.

Reporting by Melissa J. Perenson (PC World US) and Ross Catanzariti (PC World Australia.

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