A Google-made video has surfaced that describes Android 3.0 (named Honeycomb) as being "built entirely for tablet." That clearly implies there will be two versions of Android, one for tablets, and one for smartphones. At first, this sounds like a bad move. But it could well be a good thing.
As my Computerworld blogging compatriot JR Raphael points out, Google posted a video about Honeycomb to its Android Developers channel on YouTube, but then put it into "private" mode, so it's not publicly available from there. However, some sites have posted the video, including Endgadget, so you can watch it there.
Near the beginning of the video, the words "Entirely for Tablet" appear (as you can see below), and throughout the video, text appears highlighting the tablet-specific features of Honeycomb, such as "Tablet optimized Gmail."
The video last little more than a minute, but offers a tantalizing look at the future of Android tablets. It's a beautiful-looking interface; one of the things I like the best is that apps appear to stream content and allow you to interact with them as widgets. So it appears that you can have multiple apps and windows visible at the same time on the screen, check your email on one of them, possibly watch video on another, and so on. You can see the interface, below.
And that's the core of why I believe it may be a good thing for there to be different versions of Android for tablets and smartphones --- or at least have the tablet version be the superset, and smartphones have a subset of features. Smartphones simply don't have as much screen real estate as tablets. And there will no doubt be tablet apps that require more powerful chips and better graphics processing than smartphones. So there's no reason to hold back tablets based on smartphone hardware specs.
This story, "Android 3.0 Honeycomb: For Tablets Only, and That May Be a Good Thing" was originally published by Computerworld.