2011-02-20

Android 3.0 Honeycomb highlights

There is a 53min video of the 2011-02-02 event where Android 3 was introduced. If you don’t have the patience for it, you can read a page with highlights that Google has published. Pictures and comments after the break.
Android Honeycomb user interface for browsing books [source]
Comments:
  • The page embeds a 1:33min video with user interface highlights.
  • Honeycomb has a 3D visualization of items (see image above) that is similar to Apple’s Cover Flow. I much prefer it to Cover Flow that I never use and whose display I find too “hectic”. But I don’t understand why the Honeycomb visualization is curved away from you and not towards you. You would want the “current” item to be close to you and the other items to disappear in infinity, to the right and to the left. One possible reason that Google implemented it this way are copyright issues.
  • Turning pages when reading a book: Here Google made the unfortunate choice to copy Apple’s skeuomorphic approach. It’s popular, because it’s pretty, but it hurts usability. Amazon’s Kindle app does it much better: No space is wasted to show fake pages and animations are kept simple.
  • Virtual keyboard: Almost the same as the iPad’s (see below). The WebOS keyboard is better and gives you numbers without switching the layout [2].
  • I hope they decouple an application from the long-running tasks it starts. One example is Skype staying active in the background and receiving updates. If the let users manage such tasks via the notification interface, they get fine-grained control over what to keep running and what to stop, via a straightforward user interface.
  • System bar and action bar: Great idea. The system bar is for global navigation such as switching apps, while the action bar contains context-sensitive commands of the current application. This gives applications a common and easily discoverable location for their commands. A clear mechanism of this kind is still needed on the iPad.
All in all: solid, good-looking work by Google.
Honeycomb’s virtual keyboard [source]

Related posts:
  1. Google’s Duarte on Android Honeycomb
  2. HP’s new WebOS devices: the highlights
  3. Making sense of the iPad
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