Google is giving developers and the rest of the world the first great look at Android 3.0 Honeycomb today with the release of a preview SDK. We’ll skip the techie details and direct you to the appropriate links for the jargon that flies over our heads. Instead, we’ll give you the screen shots and details that your typical user will care about. Honeycomb not only looks awesome, but it sounds like it’s going to be a serious winner.
We’ve pulled bits and pieces out of the highlights, but recommend checking the full list for yourself. If you are like us, you skip to the gallery below and then come back to the details. It’s okay, go ahead.
- System Bar, for global status and notifications: Across the system and in all applications, users have quick access to notifications, system status, and soft navigation buttons in a System Bar, available at the bottom of the screen. The System Bar is always present and is a key touchpoint for users, but in a new “lights out mode” can also be dimmed for full-screen viewing, such as for videos.
- Action Bar, for application control: In every application, users have access to contextual options, navigation, widgets, or other types of content in an Action Bar, displayed at the top of the screen. The Action Bar is another key touchpoint for users, especially with action items and an overflow dropdown menu, which users frequently access in a similar manner in most applications.
- Customizable Home screens: Five customizable Home screens give users instant access to all parts of the system from any context. Each screen offers a large grid that maintains spatial arrangement in all orientations. Users can select and manipulate Home screen widgets, app shortcuts, and wallpapers using a dedicated visual layout mode.
- Recent Apps, for easy visual multitasking: Multitasking is a key strength of Android and it is central to the Android 3.0 experience. To help users rapidly identify the task associated with each app, the list shows a snapshot of its actual state when the user last viewed it.
- Improved text selection, copy and paste: When entering or viewing text, a new UI lets users quickly select a word by press-hold and then adjust the selection area as needed by dragging a set of bounding arrows to new positions. Users can then select an action from the Action Bar, such as copy to the clipboard, share, paste, web search, or find.
- New connectivity options: Built-in support for Media/Photo Transfer Protocol lets users instantly sync media files with a USB-connected camera or desktop computer, without needing to mount a USB mass-storage device. Users can also connect full keyboards over either USB or Bluetooth, for a familiar text-input environment. New support for Bluetooth tethering means that more types of devices can share the network connection of an Android-powered device.
- Browser: The browser includes new features that let users navigate and organize more efficiently. Multiple tabs replace browser windows and a new “incognito” mode allows anonymous browsing. Bookmarks and history are presented and managed in a single unified view. Users can now choose to automatically sign into Google sites on the browser with a supplied account and sync bookmarks with Google Chrome.
- Camera and Gallery: The Camera application has been redesigned to take advantage of a larger screen for quick access to exposure, focus, flash, zoom, front-facing camera, and more.
- Contacts: The Contacts app uses a new two-pane UI and Fast Scroll to let users easily organize and locate contacts. The application offers improved formatting of international phone numbers as user types, based on home country and an international number parsing library. Contact information is presented in a card-like UI, making it easier for users to read and edit contacts.
- Email: The Email application uses a new two-pane UI to make viewing and organizing messages more efficient. The app lets users select one or more messages, then select an action from the Action Bar, such as moving them to a folder. Users can sync attachments for later viewing and keep track of email using a home screen Widget.