Android is coming on in leaps and bounds, and not just in the smartphone world, where it's quickly becoming the OS of choice for the discerning mobile fanatic. Google isn't satisfied though -- it will stop at nothing short of total Android domination, and it wants its classy operating system to take over the tablet world too.
Tell them about the honey, mummy
Honeycomb is version 3.0 of the Android operating system, and it has been developed specifically to work on tablets. Why is that necessary? Well, one of the big problems with previous versions of Android running on tablets was that it behaved just like a smartphone -- the icons and interface weren't designed for a larger display, and often we've found that smartphone versions of Android don't take advantage of the screen real-estate, and the powerful hardware that accompanies a great big tablet.
Honeycomb is Google's attempt at building something that works a bit better, and it looks great. But what are some of its cooler features?
Tabbing the potential
The biggest, most obvious benefit comes in the Honeycomb web browser. Tablets are built to browse the web. But in order to browse the web enjoyably, you're going to need a tabbed browser, like the ones we're so used to using on laptops or desktop computers. Honeycomb has a Chrome-style tabbed browser, so you can switch between tabs really quickly. You can have loads of different web pages open at the same time, and flit between them at speed.
The interface also has a refreshed feel, with a holographic, pseudo-3D effect swooshing hither and thither. The homescreen interface remains -- you'll get five different homescreens and you can customise them, and switch between them by swiping your finger left and right. There's also increased customisation, so you can zoom in to get a better look at widgets and apps running on your various homescreens.
Everything is laid out very cleanly indeed, and really makes use of the fact that on a tablet you've got a lot more space to play with -- no massive icons are present here.
Key to success
The on-screen keyboard has undergone a makeover from the smartphone era too, and now there's a tab button, for quickly switching form fields. Handy if you're filling out your address, or trying to do a spot of online shopping.
There's a 'System Bar' on the bottom of the screen now, that will alert you with notifications relevant to apps you're running, and generally keeps you abreast of what's going on with the tablet. There are on-screen navigation buttons here too, for added control.
Another benefit of using a Google-powered OS is that Google services are pre-loaded, and well integrated. Google Talk lets you video chat, and there's a redesigned interface for YouTube that shows videos as a gigantic tiled wall.
There's access to Google's eBooks, and tablet-optimised versions of the Gmail and Contacts apps that delivers a two-pane interface, which should make finding your contacts and firing off emails a lot quicker. Indeed, if you use a lot of Google services, then a Honeycomb tablet is definitely a smart move.
Now you're clued up about Honeycomb tablets, why not point your peepers over to the right to check out some of our favourite Honeycomb tablets? Honeycomb is so new that we have yet to publish our final verdict on any of the models in this roundup, but if you bookmark the page and return, it will be updated once we've had a chance to test everything out thoroughly and write our final verdicts.