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Android Handhelds Portables

Android 3.0 Is Trickling In, But Are the Apps? 231

Posted by timothy
from the but-honeycomb's-big dept.
jhernik writes "As tablets based on the new Honeycomb version of Android appear, critics have questioned Google's moves to enforce a standard Android platform, and said there may be as few as 20 'real' apps for the devices. Motorola's Xoom tablet is due to appear in the UK next week, along with the Eee Transformer, but their ability to compete with the recently-launched Apple iPad 2 may be hurt by the shortage of tablet-optimised Android apps. Meanwhile, reports that Google wants to standardise Android hardware are causing alarm."
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Android 3.0 Is Trickling In, But Are the Apps?

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  • What's different this version as opposed to others that only 20 apps are considered 'real'?

    And what about Apple's trick of just doubling the pixel usage for iPad vs iPhone apps to repurpose the latter for the former?

    Does that work on Android?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brunes69 (86786)

      The Android platform automatically scales apps like that already. It has to because Android supports lots of resolutions (unlike iOS).

      Have never understood all these "lack of tablet-optimized apps" BS... it all seems like FUD to me. Most iOS apps I have seen are identical between their tablet and phone versions.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's not BS. There can be a huge benefit when the developer actually customizes their layout to account for more screen real estate with lower DPI. Automatically scaling apps usually results in odd looking UI and wasted space.

        • Re:What's different (Score:4, Informative)

          by bemymonkey (1244086) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @01:59PM (#35680920)

          Yes, the apps aren't as pretty or functional as they could be if they were fully optimized for the form factor.

          However, saying that only 20 apps are available for the $500-1000 device someone is about to buy is just plain untrue... You can already use what you've got, and it'll get prettier and more functional over time.

        • by goldcd (587052) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @02:14PM (#35681150) Homepage
          at Android development, one of the 'good things' seemed to be that you can write your app - and then provide different layouts based upon the screen resolution of the target device. Should mean a developer can very quickly tweak their app to benefit from the extra space given, if it's run on a tablet. I'm not for one moment suggesting that adding some better layouts to a phone app will suddenly transform it into an app natively designed for a tablet - but better than just scaling up.
          • by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @02:37PM (#35681556) Journal

            yup, and wait for it....wait for it...you don't need honeycomb to be able do exactly that, which shows that the whole article is shoddy journalism at best.

            For the reality side, Microsoft has lost, as pointed out by groklaw. [groklaw.net]

            • by gig (78408)

              What you *can* do and what actually gets done are 2 very different things.

              Fact, is, you pay $800 for a XOOM with a PC screen and there are hardly any apps that will take advantage of that screen.

              The knock on iPad was it is "just a big iPod touch". Well, if you run iPhone/iPod apps on an iPad, then it is just a big iPod touch. You might as well just buy an iPod touch. But if you run iPad apps on an iPad, then it is a small Mac full-size PC class apps in half the size, double the battery life, and with multi

          • If an Android app just gets a quick tweak to the UI when moving to the tablet platform, then it's a shit tablet app. Tablets are not just bigger phones. For example an app that requires a drill down interface (a hierarchy of screens) may just need a single screen on a tablet. You don't do that just by tweaking the screen layout, or worse: relying on automatic layout. Actual code needs changing.

        • There also are lots of apps that don't benefit from changing the layout, and simply scaling the UI up to the larger screen is exactly what you want. A lot of games, for example, are in this category. So those apps are already "optimized" for tablets, but because that optimization doesn't require any 3.0 specific features, they somehow don't count. That's just silly. In truth, a lot fewer Android apps than iOS apps need to be customized for tablets, because Android has supported resolution independence a
          • There also are lots of apps that don't benefit from changing the layout

            Actually there are almost none. Pretty much every iPad app that also has an iPhone version has a very different layout on the iPad.

            A lot of games, for example, are in this category.

            Games are actually the worst possible point you could bring up in this context, because they are so often tailored exactly for a specific size and even aspect ratio. They can take some adjustment but basically what you end up with is (at best) very upscaled

            • Actually, I personally have three different apps in the Android market that fall into exactly this category. I wrote them with resolution independence in mind, and there is absolutely nothing I would change about them to work better on a tablet. They simply don't need it.

              Changing the size of game assets has nothing to do with tablets or with using Android 3.0 features. Tablets and high end phones tend to have similar screen resolutions. For example, the iPad 2's resolution is 1024x768, only very slig
              • Finally, remember there have been Android tablets around for over six months. Developers have had lots of time and reason to make sure their apps work well on them.

                Unfortunately, it's not as easy.

                On monday I bought an Archos 70 Internet Tablet (Android 2.2, 7", 800x480).
                Now, there are many Android phones out there, that have a similar screen resolution, but a significantly smaller display.

                Since most developers do not care about DPI, apps that look just fine on a phone with WVGA resolution look bad on a tabl

          • by gig (78408)

            > There also are lots of apps that don't benefit from changing the layout, and simply scaling the UI up to the larger
            > screen is exactly what you want. A lot of games, for example, are in this category.

            No, that is not true. It is never true. We don't have to guess at this, we've already seen the iOS app platform transition from small devices only to a mix of small and large devices.

            Why am I buying a PC size screen to run the same exact app from my phone just scaled up? I am not. That does not sell tab

        • by nedwidek (98930)

          It is BS because they've put a lot of thought into it. If the app looks like crap it's probably because the developer did everything they say not to do on this page:
          http://developer.android.com/guide/practices/screens_support.html [android.com]

          iOS apps can look like crap too when the developer doesn't do what you need to do there for screen independence.

        • There can be a huge benefit when the developer actually customizes their layout to account for more screen real estate with lower DPI. Automatically scaling apps usually results in odd looking UI and wasted space.

          I agree. Just ask any WinXP user with a vertical screen resolution of less than 800 px, in some system windows the 'Ok' and 'Cancel' buttons will not be visible due to fixed layout.

      • by Haedrian (1676506)

        That's true.

        However, there are certain new features that 3.0 brings, such as fragments, and action bars and stuff like that.

        There's really no cause for alarm, if it works in pre-3.0 it'll work, it just won't be as polished as it should be.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "However, there are certain new features that 3.0 brings, such as fragments, and action bars and stuff like that."

          Check it out, Google's trying to redefine "fragment" in Android as a *good thing*.

      • Re:What's different (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @01:32PM (#35680496) Homepage

        Most iOS apps I have seen are identical between their tablet and phone versions.

        It's when they don't have a version for the iPad that you really see the difference.

        You can zoom it so it fills the screen, but it ends up being an app that only works in portrait mode, has clunky, poorly rendered buttons, and generally feels different to use. You can usually see the big jaggies around the edges of things and sometimes a button ends up being ginormous as it was sized for a small, hand-held.

        If someone doesn't include the higher-res graphics, it's quite obviously an app meant for a phone.

        Can't speak to Android, but I can say that an app meant for a phone doesn't always work as well as you'd like on a tablet.

        • by ThinkWeak (958195)
          Of the apps I've used so far on my tablets, a Galaxy Tab and an Archos 70 (both running Android 2.2), I haven't encountered an issue when using an app written for the phone. That's not to say I probably wouldn't run into one if I looked for awhile, but the games and productivity apps I've used seem to scale very well between the two.

          I can't compare to the iPad scaling, I assumed it worked the same way. Reading your comment above, I guess it doesn't.
        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @10:03PM (#35685244) Journal

          The difference between iOS and Android is huge in that respect. On iOS, it does pixel-scaling (simply doubling them) for non-retina-display apps. The result is that 1) you get huge pixels, and 2) you get a huge black border around the app because you can't get from iPhone to iPad screen size by multiplying by a whole number.

          On Android, UI is generally designed fluid, and that's because there are many possible screen sizes. When running on tablets, the apps just reflow their UI. Worst case, you get a lot of wasted whitespace between controls, but still no pixellation. In many cases (e.g. file managers) it actually works surprisingly good.

      • When designing an app there can be a huge (and beneficial) difference in layout , UI, and control mechanisms between a 3.7" screen and a 7, 10, or 11" screen. The same apps will often work (if looking a bit pixelated) but it will offer far from the best user experience.
      • Re:What's different (Score:5, Informative)

        by syntap (242090) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @01:52PM (#35680834)

        You obviously don't own a Xoom. Many apps are just tiny rectangles taking the top-half of the screen or so. Some apps scale, most I have tried are not scaling.

        • Re:What's different (Score:4, Interesting)

          by crazycheetah (1416001) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @02:07PM (#35681024)

          I do own a Xoom and I don't have the problem to the degree that you're stating. Mind you, I probably use more apps that just use Android's normal UI drawing mechanisms, which is what scales just fine. There's no pixelation or anything. It is a little weird to have a list that fits on a phone screen taking up the whole tablet screen, but it doesn't look horrible.

          There are apps that are ridiculous and won't scale. Some of those are for better reason (Pandora, for example, I can understand, as that's a little more challenging to make scale up to the larger screen without further work), but some of them are just stupid. Dictionary.com app has a clunky interface that takes twice or more longer to load and interact with anyway, and that probably looks like shit on the Xoom--I haven't tried, because I've honestly avoided apps like that on the Xoom and have tried to stick to apps that I know should have reasonable expectation of working without problems, and those apps work great.

          In my opinion, except for some that the developers just need to get on top of, the problem of apps looking shitty on the Xoom is mostly the fault of the developers who think they have to use their own shiny UI or try to make it look exactly like it looks on the iPhone (which is the only one that I can see their point, as the same interface across multiple platforms is a nice idea, but in my opinion, it's an idea that leads to more bad than good) and therefore run slow on Android and not allow Android to scale it automatically. I despise Apple's control over the App Store, but that's a very clear and obvious advantage to that control and disadvantage to Android's openness.

          • by hitmark (640295)

            Yep, the most likely place to run into problems are those programs that use a custom ui based on bitmaps in an an attempt to be noticed and remembered from a marketing perspective.

        • by GooberToo (74388)

          That would be an application bug. Any application which fails to scale is either extremely purpose centric addressing a specific niche or flatly not even trying to comply with developer guidelines.

      • Re:What's different (Score:5, Informative)

        by DdJ (10790) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @01:56PM (#35680878) Homepage Journal

        Have never understood all these "lack of tablet-optimized apps" BS... it all seems like FUD to me

        Want to see the reality of the issue?

        Go get a Nook Color and either jailbreak it or make a Honeycomb SD card to boot off or something. Make it so you can install non-tablet Android apps on it.

        Now get the official "Google Reader" app for Android and run it.

        On a phone-sized device, it's completely fine, because you can hold the device with one hand, and all the controls are within reach of the thumb of that hand. On the tablet-sized device, the UI goes from "nice enough that it gets out of your way and can be ignored" to "pretty darned annoying".

        It's not just a matter of resolution or scaling -- UI design for something phone-sized is not the same as UI design for something bigger than phone-sized.

        (Under iOS, what you're supposed to do is query the system about which UI paradigm is in effect, or specify for which UI paradigm your software is designed -- that's the "UIDeviceFamily" stuff. That way you don't have to make the decision based on checking pixel counts, leaving the door open for both phone-sized and tablet-sized devices with different pixel counts.)

        • by Svartalf (2997)

          And the opposite reality is the Browser or something like Angry Birds. Works FINE without any optimization needed. If written without some assumptions it works well in both environments (If you don't "optimize" it for phones, you'll have much, much less issues.). Yes, your example's a good one- but most of the apps are actually fully functional and non-problematic on the Nook Color with Honeycomb- I know, I'm running in that configuration right now.

          • by DdJ (10790)

            Yup, you're correct, there are certainly plenty of apps that work just as well at the big form factor as the small. I can't comment on "most" apps, but there are certainly more than a few.

            You mention not "optimizing" for phones though... the thing is, when you do that, you often get a better experience on phones. Most times, I'll take a UI optimized for a particular use over a generic UI, and "phone" and "tablet" are different uses, and often benefit from different UIs. But yeah, "Angry Birds" is an exam

            • by Svartalf (2997)

              Hopefully the games I've ported from Windows to Linux will move over nicely enough. (Main reason I've a Nook and about to get a Xoom... I've got a few other Android devices, but the tablets are going to be important to make it not matter either way over... :-D)

        • I have a Nook Color and I also have the Google Reader app on it. I don't see the annoying factor you see. Then again, I also don't expect to use a tablet one-handed.

          • by DdJ (10790)

            The problem is the navigation. On a phone, it doesn't take a lot of movement to move between the "go to previous article" button, the "go to next article" button, or to navigate back up a folder level. The two buttons at the bottom each take up half of the width of the screen, and on a phone that's not a lot of width.

            On a tablet, better design would have been for the controls to be either sized or arranged differently. Heck, in landscape mode they could rip the UI off of Honeycomb's GMail app, that'd be

          • by ArsonSmith (13997)

            you need to subscribe to playboy then.

        • by Coren22 (1625475)

          Do you have a link for a honeycomb image for the nook? I would be interested in running that.

          • by DdJ (10790)

            Do you have a link for a honeycomb image for the nook? I would be interested in running that.

            Here's the best starting point I'm aware of:

            http://nookdevs.com/Portal:NookColor [nookdevs.com]

            If you go with the option I picked, you'll need a microSD card that's at least 4GB (you're going to "dd" a disk image complete with partition map to it), and the higher speed class you can get, the better, since you actually run off the flash card and ignore the Nook's internal storage (which actually lets you do this without rooting/jailbreaking the Nook at all, which is Fucking Awesome -- power down, take out the card, power b

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          On a phone-sized device, it's completely fine, because you can hold the device with one hand, and all the controls are within reach of the thumb of that hand. On the tablet-sized device, the UI goes from "nice enough that it gets out of your way and can be ignored" to "pretty darned annoying".

          So you bought something the size of a folded tabloid and you expect to control the entire thing with your thumb? Here's a flip side. Why would I as a developer want to create a different app for every different screen size out there just so you don't need to move your fat fingers? If you bought something expecting to hold it with one hand and control it with the same hand, maybe you should have bought a phone to begin with.

          I'm sure many would agree that the biggest selling points of tablets is that the

      • by monopole (44023)

        Pretty much FUD or worse. I own several tablets w/ 1024x600, 800x600 and 800x480 resolutions running 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3. All the apps scale fine (w/ the exception of ACV which has pretty much been obsoleted by PerfectView). To tell the truth, the cellphone style interfaces are fine particularly if you have fat fingers and bad eyes.

        This is mainly a game by which Apple defines what are "real" tablets to continue the perception of the tablet as an expensive luxury item.

        • by hitmark (640295)

          And for big media, news division, to get more people over to the most locked up platform so that they can push their "enhanced" reading experiences for a fee...

          I wonder what would happen if one lined up the hardest critics of honeycomb in media and the media corp news apps on ipad...

      • by Svartalf (2997)

        Heh... Angry Birds works on Honeycomb, most other apps seem to do "okay" as well. The phone stuff moves well to tablets, but you can do things slightly different if you know you've got the real estate on the screen- which when combined with the lack of UI scalability on iOS is where the presumption you "need" 'tablet-optimized' stuff in the first place.

      • by gilesjuk (604902)

        Rubbish. Many iPad versions are much improved. There is space on the left side of the mail application to show a list of all your mails (landscape mode), on the iPhone you have to move back and forth. Same applies to the settings screen on the iPad.

        The iPad has extra GUI controls. A tweaked version of Cocoa touch which suits a tablet size device more. It is up to the developer to produce an application that uses them well.

        Scaling is not the same as an improved layout and being able to show more things on sc

      • by Old97 (1341297)
        You don't have much experience with iPad and iPhone apps, do you? First of all there are a number of apps that only run on the iPad and secondly, quality apps that have been optimized for the iPad - which includes those that have code for both the phone and the pad - work much differently. I've evaluated about 120 serious iPad applications now for my company and a larger number of iPhone apps. Screen size and form factor does matter. An iPhone app that just zooms to fill an iPad screen doesn't take adva
      • by Karlt1 (231423)

        Have never understood all these "lack of tablet-optimized apps" BS... it all seems like FUD to me. Most iOS apps I have seen are identical between their tablet and phone versions.

        Well you haven't seen many iPad apps. Even if you look no further than the standard apps like Mail, Calendar, Settings, YouTube, etc., you will see a huge difference between the interfaces on the iPad and the iPhone.

        Not to even mention apps like Hulu, Netflix, Vevo, Pandora etc. that let you view the video non-full screen while b

    • by werdnapk (706357)
      Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) was developed with tablet type computers in mind and is not meant for smartphones. Android 2.x apps will still work, they just won't be optimized for the interface.
    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      What's different this version as opposed to others that only 20 apps are considered 'real'?

      A "real" Honeycomb tablet app would use Fragments and rely on all of those fancy tablet features that are keeping Honeycomb from being open-sourced [slashdot.org] (or so we are informed).

      Android apps rescale more intelligently than "2x" mode on an iPad but a lot of them don't do the "right thing" in terms of layout, for example the pre-Honeycomb Facebook app on a tablet will expand its view to the entire size of the screen and scale

      • by Americano (920576)

        The platform requires devs do actually make two separate versions

        Just to clarify, for the people who will say "What, they make you buy two copies of the same app?!?!?!1111!!!" You can embed the UI information for both iPad and iPhone apps into a single application bundle, so that the same app will display the properly-optimized UI for whatever screen size it's running on. Other apps are designed exclusively for the iPad and can't be loaded on the iPhone, and some apps only have an iPhone-sized UI, and so

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      Apple's double pixel trick is a horrible thing to do, in all honesty. There are better ways to do it. the whole article means nothing though, as it's not google that dictates that developers program their apps for 3.0 among other things such as the apps not needing to be programmed for honeycomb ever, even.

    • by hey! (33014)

      What's different this version as opposed to others that only 20 apps are considered 'real'?

      What's different is that it scares some people who'd prefer that you buy an iPad.

  • Breaking news! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zill (1690130)

    While Apple’s iPad 2 has 65,000 applications, excluding those designed for the iPhone. Honeycomb has far fewer, and commentators have been competing to offer lower numbers.

    This just in: New tablet has no apps. New cars have no mileage. New bank accounts have a $0 balance. Film at 11.

    • by Angostura (703910)

      You'll need to nack and see how many iPad-specific apps were ready when the iPad 1 launched, a fair few, I seem to recall, including Apple's iWork stuff.

      • Re:Breaking news! (Score:4, Informative)

        by PNutts (199112) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @02:37PM (#35681560)

        You'll need to nack and see how many iPad-specific apps were ready when the iPad 1 launched, a fair few, I seem to recall, including Apple's iWork stuff.

        Over 2000 the day before launch and over 3100 the day after launch.

    • New bank accounts have a $0 balance.

      No I just opened a new bank account with $5,000 in it because a Nigerian prince needs my help for transferring $500M USD. He will leave me with $100M USD for my trouble!

    • by ronin510 (1113835)

      BREAKING NEWS: Original iPad launches with 2,000 apps.

      Shocking, I know, but Apple announced the iPad project in January 2010. They actually gave developers 4 months to prepare for the April launch. Google could have released the SDK months before the Android 3.0 launch (instead of 2 days), but even they admit Android 3.0 isn't fully finished/polished.

      Source: [techcrunch.com] http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/02/best-ipad-apps-launch/ [techcrunch.com]

    • by rsborg (111459)

      While Apple’s iPad 2 has 65,000 applications, excluding those designed for the iPhone. Honeycomb has far fewer, and commentators have been competing to offer lower numbers.

      This just in: New tablet has no apps. New cars have no mileage. New bank accounts have a $0 balance. Film at 11.

      Seriously? You're comparing Apps to mileage? At least the iPad came with over 1000 pre-launch.

      Its in question now if even little ol' Palm WebOS 3.0 will have more Touchpad apps by the time of it's release than Honeycomb.

    • by Karlt1 (231423)

      This just in: New tablet has no apps. New cars have no mileage. New bank accounts have a $0 balance. Film at 11.

      The iPad had 500+ apps on day 1. Including NetFlix.

  • Whoever didnt see that coming a mile away was a fool. Google has the perfect bait and switch. Give them a popular OS for free they can do whatever with - let adoption soar. Now, google can start to dictate terms. Hopefully they can get manufactures pushing updates sooner, stop the stupid look and feel customization, etc.
    • by sunking2 (521698)
      Google needs to start setting some standards. Real time low latency audio is one example. Android will have a hard time getting applications like audio mixers ala amplitube/garageband because of this. iOS has a 4-5ms latency, Honeycomb is down to a 45ms requirement that hardware manufacturers have to meet. No company is ever going to invest money in creating an application where there is no real guarantee of knowing what hardware will be available to even run it.
      • by GooberToo (74388)

        Real time low latency audio is one example.

        Those standards have already been set and are being met. They are on par with what Apple offers and likely will be offering for some time to come. The next generation of Android hardware will all meet the required specifications.

        iOS has a 4-5ms latency, Honeycomb is down to a 45ms requirement that hardware manufacturers have to meet.

        That's a misrepresentation and a common misconception. The truth is, all 2.x and 3x, versions of Android are capable of competing with iOS's latency measurements. The problem is, its not guaranteed by the OS and the hardware and associated drivers never made any effort to meet such

        • by sunking2 (521698)
          Your reading comprehension skills seem to be a bit lacking. At no point do I say it's a problem with Android. The problem is with not being able to enforce strict hardware requirements on a plethora of different hardware. It's a general flaw in the business model. You can't win every fight and when it comes to ensuring that the platform you are targeting will do what you want hardware wise the Apple model simply wins here.
          • by GooberToo (74388) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @02:32PM (#35681490)

            Your reading comprehension skills seem to be a bit lacking.

            WTF? You're attacking a sincere, neutral, informative, contextual post?

            You said:

            Honeycomb is down to a 45ms requirement that hardware manufacturers have to meet.

            Honeycomb is a specific version of Android. Furthermore, you attributed a specific latency to Honeycomb which simply doesn't exist. Thusly me pointing out the common confusion which you now seem to be compounding. So factually, your statement is completely wrong. To address your factually incorrect statement, I said:

            That's a misrepresentation and a common misconception. The truth is, all 2.x and 3x, versions of Android are capable of competing with iOS's latency measurements.

            So since factually your statement is wrong and my statement is correct and I specifically corrected your statement with additional details which explains why your statement is wrong and your complaint is being addressed, I fail to see why my comprehension skills are the least bit questioned. Perhaps its not my comprehension skills which require correction?

            From here, you then take a completely unrelated turn in the same paragraph...which is not to say I'm a grammar Nazi - believe me, I'm not - its just that its confusing since it has absolutely nothing to do with your original assertion that my factually accurate and completely topical statements somehow prove a comprehension issue. This is especially true since you then continue to make an issue of something which I specifically address and yet insist its an issue when clearly its not. Which seemingly further suggests the comprehension issue is squarely between your monitor and chair.

            You said:

            The problem is with not being able to enforce strict hardware requirements on a plethora of different hardware.

            To which I had previously said:

            Those standards have already been set and are being met. They are on par with what Apple offers and likely will be offering for some time to come. The next generation of Android hardware will all meet the required specifications.

            Perhaps, "comprehension skills seem to be a bit lacking", doesn't mean what you think it means.

            • by node 3 (115640)

              It was extremely clear what he meant. You clearly misinterpreted his claim, but the fact remains that on iOS, a developer can rely on extremely low latency audio performance, and on Android they cannot. The Android OS itself may well be capable of handling it, but developers target actual installations, not theoretical software capabilities.

        • So these guys at https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=3434 [google.com] are complaining for, well, nothing?
          • by GooberToo (74388)

            What is it with comprehension issues?

            I said its fixed in next generation hardware? You point to people complaining about current and previous generation hardware? How is your post the least bit topical?

            • by node 3 (115640)

              You mean this unsubstantiated claim?

              With the next generation of Android hardware, all devices will meet or beat iOS' latency requirements.

              Yeah, I'm sure that's actually going to happen...

              There's a whole lotta vapor coming off Android these days. The *next* version will work on phones again. The *next* version of Flash won't suck. The *next* generation of hardware will blah, blah, blah.

              Google's turning Android into a closed platform similar to iOS, but unfortunately they lack the software expertise of Apple, their partners lack the hardware expertise of Apple, and the whole ecosystem lacks the "designs the w

        • Real time low latency audio is one example.

          Those standards have already been set and are being met. They are on par with what Apple offers and likely will be offering for some time to come. The next generation of Android hardware will all meet the required specifications.

          More good news for purchasers of today's tablets. You're only one hardware generation away from something you might want one day.

          That's a misrepresentation and a common misconception. The truth is, all 2.x and 3x, versions of Android are capable of competing with iOS's latency measurements. The problem is, its not guaranteed by the OS and the hardware and associated drivers never made any effort to meet such requirements. Samsung hardware in particular is known to have absolutely horrible drivers and/or hardware with extremely high latency. Thusly, what people blame on Android is actually driver and hardware issues. Some Android devices actually can compete with iOS' latency but they are few and far between.

          With the next generation of Android hardware, all devices will meet or beat iOS' latency requirements.

          Do people really care WHY something doesn't work?

      • by iluvcapra (782887)

        Setting standards is fine, but the question is who sets those standards, and wether those standards will be set in the best interests of the community of developers and hardware vendors, in the interests of Google, or in the interest of users. Using access to Android source as a club [businessweek.com] to force OEMs to use Google search, to hamstring Facebook and other service providers, or to only provide the kind of phone Google sees fit isn't standardization in the interests of consumers.

        • by shmlco (594907)

          The very idea of "standardization" could backfire. Badly.

          We have precedent for this, because Microsoft did the same thing with Windows, dictating ever stricter hardware standards and forbidding OS changes (though you were apparently free to install as much bloatware as you liked).

          And the result? Hardware among vendors was effectively identical. The software WAS identical. And manufacturers well left with little to differentiate a Dell PC from an HP PC from an Acer PC. Change the beige plastic to black plast

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Hopefully they can get manufactures pushing updates sooner, stop the stupid look and feel customization, etc.

      Then, carriers will stop carrying that device.

      From what I've seen, cell carriers have a very strong interest in branding the phones and tweaking them. In fact, I've even seen some native abilities disabled/crippled, so that you'd have to go through the carrier for everything ... in one case, a friend determined that they'd removed the ability of his Motorolla to directly visit a URL. Instead, you h

      • by Altus (1034)

        I suspect that, in the mid term, selling tablets through networks will not be the way to go. I know some people who have the 3G iPad, but honestly its hard to justify the cost when Wifi is pretty damn available and you can even use your phone as a hot spot. Its hard to justify a second contract ( the iPad month by month model is better, but still why bother if your phone can be a hotspot). In the long run I think less expensive WiFi only tablets will be the way to go and they will be sold at best buy rat

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          In the long run I think less expensive WiFi only tablets will be the way to go and they will be sold at best buy rather than at AT&T.

          Couldn't agree more ... I have the wifi-only version of the iPad ... pretty much most places that I go have free wifi. I can't imagine paying for a cellular data plan for something that 90% of the time I'm connected to a wireless network.

          About the only scenario I need to cover is that some hotels only have wired internet. But, that can be solved by bringing a wireless r

          • by Altus (1034)

            It didn't come out to quite 50 a month for me (or my girlfriend). I got the 2GB data plan through AT&T with the least minuets and the cost increase was something like 20 bucks over my previous Verizon plan (of course if you have a cheep provider you will have different results) but honestly I havent been using that much 3G data. I could have been fine with the 200mb option that my girlfriend went for.

            Of course to hot spot costs extra (ridiculous) and requires a higher cap so that would add up.

            • by gstoddart (321705)

              It didn't come out to quite 50 a month for me (or my girlfriend). I got the 2GB data plan through AT&T with the least minuets and the cost increase was something like 20 bucks over my previous Verizon plan (of course if you have a cheep provider you will have different results) but honestly I havent been using that much 3G data.

              Yeah, I'm up in Canada, so our wireless situation seems to be a little more expensive and annoying than you guys.

              I have a voice-only cell phone, and that already costs me about $

          • by rsborg (111459)

            Couldn't agree more ... I have the wifi-only version of the iPad ... pretty much most places that I go have free wifi. I can't imagine paying for a cellular data plan for something that 90% of the time I'm connected to a wireless network.

            Which is why Apple negotiated and won the on-demand, monthly, post-paid, no-recurrent data option for the iPad. It was, IMHO as important as the OS or device hardware itself; it got worldwide carriers to get on board with the 3G iPad, while at the same time providing a great response to the users' dilemma on 2 data plans (response being: you don't have 2 plans, only one for your smartphone and an option for monthly on the iPad).

            Only a huge company like Apple (or Google, or Microsoft) could do this.

            • by Altus (1034)

              True, it is pretty awesome, but I still believe that hot spot use will increase and ultimately carriers will have to provide the feature either very cheaply or at no extra charge. As it is on AT&T its 20 bucks but comes with an extra 2GB of data.... I would rather just buy the data I need (because with the limited amount of tethering I do I wouldn't use 4GB in a month) but I suspect that, as this feature becomes more common on more phones and through more providers, the cost will drop and your phone wi

        • I suspect that, in the mid term, selling tablets through networks will not be the way to go. I know some people who have the 3G iPad, but honestly its hard to justify the cost when Wifi is pretty damn available and you can even use your phone as a hot spot.

          I totally agree, and anther thing in support of this is even people getting an 3G iPad may not use the 3G more than a few months here and there - the real innovation for tablets there was true month-to-month no commitment plans without setup or teardown f

        • by tepples (727027)

          I know some people who have the 3G iPad, but honestly its hard to justify the cost when Wifi is pretty damn available

          Wi-Fi can't handle the city bus or the back seat of a carpool. By the time it's found an open AP, it'll be out of range before it associates. Open Wi-Fi isn't available in the mall[1] or the grocery store[2] either.

          and you can even use your phone as a hot spot.

          Not my phone. I make fewer than 60 minutes of calls per month and pay per year for service on my Virgin Audiovox 8610 what most smartphone users pay per month. I've gathered that a lot of people are on prepaid dumbphones because it's far cheaper, especially in the collusive United States market.

      • One would hope at least one enterprising company would spot a market supply failure and create a product there. There is demand for Android; Google would have work pretty hard to scare manufacturers away. The key here is what is considered "too much", and frankly I don't see Google being particularly ridiculous about it.
        • by tepples (727027)

          One would hope at least one enterprising company would spot a market supply failure and create a product there.

          There isn't enough wireless spectrum for "at least one enterprising company" to create a product; the major carriers have gobbled it all up, and the big three don't even appear to offer plans designed for people who bring their own unlocked device.

  • by ProppaT (557551) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @01:36PM (#35680560) Homepage

    I don't think Google's trying to standardize hardware as much as they're trying to create a hardware baseline for software releases. It makes sense. There's no reason one should expect last years hardware to run next years software. You get caught up in that messy Microsoft sphere if you do that where you have to bloat all your software to make sure it works with old hardware and new hardware alike. This has been Microsoft's approach with Windows Phone 7 and, while WP7 sales have been lackluster, the hardware baseline itself has been working very well for them. There's less emphasis on comparing hardware specs in the phone and more emphasis on picking the model that you like the best, which is the way that the entire industry is moving relatively quickly.

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      This sort of is becoming the case with Android. A lot of apps have dropped support for any Android version pre-2.0.

      I'm sure after 2.4 is dropped and out for a while, anything less than 2.2 is just not going to be supported. The good thing is that the app developers decide who runs the app or not. If the app doesn't really require features in newer operating systems, the devs can set the manifest back to 1.0. If it requires features present in newer operating systems (a good example are multi-gigabyte ga

    • by sootman (158191)

      > There's no reason one should expect last
      > years hardware to run next years software.

      Really? REALLY? There are a MILLION reasons to expect new OS to support multi-year-old hardware. I'm using Apple as an example here, not because they're perfect, but because I have first-hand experience with them and I remember the stats off the top of my head.

      • iPhone users got three full years out of original iPhones before they got dropped.
      • OS X 10.6 supports all Intel Macs, some of which are over five years old now
      • OS X 10.6 supports all Intel Macs, some of which are over five years old now, and the upcoming 10.7 will probably do the same.

        That's not entirely accurate.

        Snow Leopard was released in August of 2009. [wikipedia.org] The PowerMac G5 was discontinued in August of 2006. [wikipedia.org] Doing the math, that comes to three years.

        10.7 will support Intel machines with 64-bit capabilities (ie, Core 2 Duo). This precludes any Mac mini built before August 2007, which would be four years.

        Apple is slowly narrowing the window.

        That said, I would agree. I would expect last year's hardware to run next year's software. I wouldn't expect the best experience, thou

  • by One Louder (595430) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @01:54PM (#35680856)
    All of these "articles" are just looking at the "featured" tablet apps list, which are picked by marketing folks and is not the definitive list of Honeycomb-specific or Honeycomb-enabled apps.

    For instance, my company updated its app to use Honeycomb features as appropriate, while maintaining backward compatibility with Froyo and Gingerbread (minSdkVersion=8, targetSdkVersion=11), but it's not listed as a "featured" app.
    • by GooberToo (74388)

      Its been pretty clear for a while now, featured apps don't always get that visibility based strictly on the published guidelines. I've seen many a featured app which was garbage. Likewise, I've seen many which should be a featured app, including many others saying the same thing, which are completely ignored.

      I don't proclaim to understand exactly how it works but its pretty clear it doesn't work the way Google has published and repeatedly claimed.

  • by mrnick (108356)

    This is just another example of Google trying to keep control of an OSS project. Ultimately the truth is they cannot. If they comply with the OSS licenses in play they have to release it and this will allow ANYONE to use Android as a platform. With that said they can keep people from using the trademark "with Google" off such devices (who cares?). If Google wanted to keep things closed they should have forked something with a BSD style license, like Apple did. It looks like Google wants to eat their ca

    • by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @04:02PM (#35682672)

      Anyone can run Android; not everyone can sell it with Android branding. The branding is what Google controls, not the code.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      This is just another example of Google trying to keep control of an OSS project. Ultimately the truth is they cannot. If they comply with the OSS licenses in play they have to release it and this will allow ANYONE to use Android as a platform. With that said they can keep people from using the trademark "with Google" off such devices (who cares?). If Google wanted to keep things closed they should have forked something with a BSD style license, like Apple did.

      Repeat after me, Android is not open-source. AOS

  • by dara (119068) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @02:27PM (#35681392)

    I think Google made a mistake in buying into the idea that phones and tablets have be different at all. There is a big difference going from a desktop/laptop with a mouse and no touch screen, to a phone/tablet with usually no mouse and always a touch screen, but after that, do we really need the distinction? Wouldn't it be better if software (apps and the OS) allowed for a smooth transition across screen sizes from 3" to 10+"?

    I personally want a phone in the current dead zone (except for the Dell Streak). I find even 4.3" too small, but 7" is too big. 5", or even 5.5" is my sweet spot. What am I supposed to use - Honeycomb?, Gingerbread? Why the hell do I have to make a choice?

    Future smart phones are all going high resolution. Anything with a screen size of 4 inches or more is going to have 1280x720, 768, or 800 pixels at a minimum. 1920x1200 will probably push down to 7" devices. Software should be able to handle a range of screen sizes and resolutions and reflow text and icons (and allow lots of configuration to choose font and icon sizes and number of icons) to make working across this range not a big deal.

    And another thing, at this point I do expect that some reasonably specified current hardware (single core, 1 GHz, 512 MB RAM, etc.) should be able to be upgraded many years into the future. Sure certain features may have to be disabled, and configuration sliders controlling animation may have to be turned way back, but I don't want the core Android to turn into some behemoth that won't even run on hardware that is a few years old. I'm ready to hop off the iPhone train and a big reason is that Apple screwed my phone (3G) completely with iOS4 and isn't even trying to fix it anymore (no more updates for that phone). I'd rather Google didn't emulate Apple on that front also.

    I'm all for Google flexing some muscle against manufactures and carriers, both of which disappoint me orders of magnitude more than Google ever has. But a sufficient solution for me to the fragmentation problem is if they would push for a lot more Nexus phones and tablets available simultaneously. Just one phone at a time (and no tablets) isn't cutting it. At least one phone from each manufacturer on each carrier and a bunch of tablets would be more like it.

  • Add multiple screen support to your manifest file. 2.1 stuff seems pretty compatible so far, at least the stuff I've tried. Motorola and google only just released the honeycomb/xoom dev stuff a couple weeks ago. also, the price makes the xoom a bit out of reach for some.
  • Whole topic should be modded flamebait!
  • I'm all in favor of Google standardizing Android hardware. As it is right now it's a nightmare when doing UI Design compared to doing UI design for the iPhone. With the iPhone it's nice because every phone using the same screen size. On the droid not only are the screen sizes different, but the aspect ratio is not consistent either, so it's not a simple choice of designing one interface that can scale, you're stuck creating multiple interfaces. I think standardizing the hardware, at least screen sizes, woul

  • by SWPadnos (191329) on Thursday March 31, 2011 @06:01PM (#35683804)

    I hope Google *does* do something to standardize hardware. Specifically, they need to define a standard connector similar in functionality to what every iOS device has.

    The fact that you can make a set of speakers or a stereo dock with one connector, and have it work for basically every device out there, is a big win. I know there have been some issues with device thickness which required mechanical adjustments on dock devices, but the electrical connection is the same.

    It's hard to overstate just how useful that is. Imagine how great it would be if you could get a charger / speaker set / remote control / keyboard / USB adapter (ever wanted a host port on your device ...), etc, and have it work for any device you buy, from any vendor. There might actually be enough of a market so that independent manufacturers would make devices that are meant to work with Android.

    To make this work, it has to be done right. The connector spec has to include anything and everything that is likely to be useful, including some generic interfaces (like USB, HDMI, audio, charging, maybe even SATA ...). There has to be full OS driver support for every peripheral, including enumeration of handset/tablet capabilities and detection of attached devices and their capabilities.

    I can't even tell you how annoying it was to walk around at CES and see thousands of devices meant to work with iCrap, and basically nothing that was meant to work with Android devices (that wasn't made by the manufacturer of the Android device). It's even more annoying to go to an electronics store looking for something like portable speakers - about 95% of them have iPod docks, but less than half have a miniphone connector to plug into a headphone port.

    Get with it, Google. The software is about equal, but there will never be a "peripheral ecosystem" unless there are hardware connection standards.

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