Every year, Google takes over the Moscone Center in San Francisco (a convenient train ride away from me) and hosts a full-blown conference called Google I/O. The usual schedule consists of 2 opening keynotes followed by presentations and demos related to all kinds of Google technologies. Google I/O also gives you an excellent chance to mingle with developers from all over the world, network, and exchange contact information. My favorite part is something called Fireside Chats, where developers from a specific team in Google sit around, talk about their product, and answer questions. Oh, and of course, the swag and t-shirts with secret QR codes.
In what is the most carefully-worded way of saying "we don't know" I've seen in a while, Asus's UK marketing manager John Swatton has told Pocket-lint that the company's new Android tablets will be shipping with Honeycomb "if Honeycomb is available." The reason for the uncertainty? Swanson seems to be suggesting that Motorola's XOOM has been given special treatment by Google, while Honeycomb remains unavailable to most, if not all, other tablet manufacturers. Swatton says, "When our tablets launch, they will launch with the latest version of Android whatever that is."
Asus's Android tablets, the Eee Pad Transformer and the Eee Pad Slider, will be launching in April and May, respectively.
If there's one thing CES told us about the upcoming twelve months in technology, it's that 2011 will be the year of Android tablets. And with noteworthy entries such as the Motorola XOOM, ASUS' lineup, and the T-Mobile G-Slate, it looks like the tablets' quality might be just as high as their quantity - at least hardware-wise.
But what about the software? After all, isn't a device's OS what makes or breaks it? And even if the tablets are good, will consumers care? Let's take a look at the top five areas Android tablets will need to succeed in.
During CES 2011 Sony Ericsson's newest smartphone, the Xperia arc, was sighted running Android version "2.4".
A few weeks ago there were rumours that Honeycomb, Google's next iteration of the Android platform, would actually be Android 2.4 and not Android 3.0. Although it was later confirmed that Honeycomb will indeed be Android 3.0, rumours suggested that an incremental update to Android was being readied. The About section of the Xperia arc, displayed below, appeared to confirm that there was indeed a version 2.4.
However, yesterday a post appeared on the Sony Ericsson Product Blog confirming that the version numbers "higher" than 2.3 appearing in the display of the Xperia arc phones was merely a "misconfiguration" and "nothing to get too excited about".
Motorola is expected to launch its XOOM tablet in February 2011 and, according to DigiTimes, they have placed an order for about 700,000 to 800,000 units. If there is greater demand, DigiTimes expects the order to reach up to one million units by the end of the first quarter of 2011.
Interestingly, DigiTimes also claims that Motorola and Samsung are being given special treatment by Google, while competitors, such as LG and HTC, are being left behind. This could explain why Andy Rubin, VP of Engineering at Google, originally demoed Android 3.0 Honeycomb on a (then unofficial) Motorola XOOM.
At this point, Motorola's sales estimates seem rather modest, considering the Samsung Galaxy Tab sold over 1 million units in its first month and the Apple iPad is expected to sell up to 7 million units in the first quarter of 2011.
While Toshiba's original attempts at an Android tablet running on the Tegra chip didn't exactly go down a storm, they seem keen to continue with Android devices, and brought a new tablet with them to CES. Artem got a video demo from one of their reps, and as you can see there are some attractive features to note.
Like the Motorola XOOM, the nameless Toshiba tablet (henceforth "Anon") has a 10.1" WXGA (1280x800) screen, which was unsurprisingly nice and crisp. It also sports the convenience of full-size USB and HDMI ports, along with a full SD card slot allowing for storage expansion up to 64 GB.
ASUS turned a few heads with their recent device unveilings, with one of the more intriguing ones being their Eee Pad MeMO. Unlike almost every other tablet device here at CES, the MeMO is not using a Tegra II processor but will instead be powered by the latest Snapdragon. The MSM8260 is the first dual core processor we've seen from Qualcomm, and we were eager to put the 1.2 GHz chip through its paces. Unfortunately, the MeMO crashed during the 3D rendering section of the Quadrant benchmark. Prior to this, the Neocore benchmark had gone into some kind of endless loop, so our attempts at empirical measurement of the device's capabilities were frustrated.
We've been getting a lot of information about Honeycomb over the past two days. Earlier today we got some more previews from T-Mobile and just now, at Verizon's CES keynote, they introduced us to an updated notifications system and a brand new sleek task switcher. Here's a video of the full walkthrough which gives us other new visuals like how to mess around with homescreens, a look at the new YouTube app, Maps 5.0 (which got quite a bit of oohs-and-aahs), Dungeon Defenders, Gtalk video chat, and much more!
Since yesterday's Honeycomb video leak and the introductions of the Xoom and G-Slate, Android fans everywhere have been awaiting more information on the sweet tablet OS. Seems like our wishes have been heard and granted by T-Mobile who has unleashed videos of the G-Slate UI. In these we find brand new user interface layouts of Gmail, the browser, Gtalk (including video chat), Google Books, and the brand new homescreen interface. Check out the videos below.
After a surprise from Andy Rubin at D:Dive Into Mobile, a tease from Motorola themselves, and many rumors surrounding it, the Honeycomb powered Motorola Xoom is finally official. Announced today at CES, the Xoom will pack a dual-core 1GHz Tegra II processor, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, and vanilla Android 3.0. The Xoom eschews the recent trend of 7-inch displays on tablets, and instead opts for a 10.1-inch 1280x800 (16:10) (gorilla glass) display, which should complement the 720P video playback capabilities nicely.
Along with an amazing screen, the Xoom has both a rear 5MP camera with LED flash, HD video-recording, and digital zoom; and a front-facing camera for video conferencing on Google Talk for tablets.