Yesterday I saw a video of All Things Digital’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher interviewing Google’s Andy Rubin demonstrating a prototype Motorola Android tablet running Honeycomb, the Android 3.0 OS that is the first Android OS designed for tablets.
Of course demo’s of Alpha/early-beta (regular beta is a shipping product for Google, right?) are always a little tough to get super-excited about as there’s usually a lot more work to go. But overall it looks like the progenitor of an impressive device.
A couple of quick impressions from the demo:
- The demo of the new 3-D Google maps was more impressive than the tablet itself, although it did show off really good 3-D rendering performance. I can see how this will be useful for the travel market, but the capability won’t be limited to just the new Google tablet.
- There are no specs, so it’s hard to tell, but it looked larger than some of the 7” tablets we’re seeing in the market. Perhaps Google has come to Job’s point of view that 7” is just too small.
- There were some nice design elements in the new tablet, particularly the lack of physical buttons. The menu buttons are completely virtual which work much better as you change the orientation of the tablet. Rubin did take a small shot about how that’s superior to the current iPad design, but if that’s the best shot you can take…
- The new Gmail app looks an awful lot like Apple’s iPad mail client as Kara noted
- Google take an interesting approach to platform development, starting with one vendor, carrier and silicon provider, rather than working from a reference platform. Yes, it makes for a better integrated experience (Rubin admits Apple is the best at that), but also strikes me that rolling out many tablets either takes a very long time or you’ll have a lot of commodity tablets.
- And to the last point, I’m not sure when this is going to ship as Rubin notes that it “isn’t due out for a while”. So it’s doubtful that it will beat the iPad2 to market. And at that point I wonder whether Honeycomb-based tablets will still hold an advantage by then.