February 2, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The Motorola Xoom feels great. Of course, you already know that based on the ocean of hands-on impressions that emerged at CES. But we didn’t get much of a look at the software because Moto didn’t let journalists and bloggers play with it much. Google took the gloves off and let us see and feel Android Honeycomb today, and here’s what I thought.
If you followed the Androinica Twitter account during the presentation, you already know how much I love the Honeycomb design. The look and feel of the interface seems like a natural progression for Android’s jump from phone to tablet, and it’s visually a step-up from what we’ve seen in previous versions of the OS. The clever new graphic touches are also aided by smooth transitions and a focus on touch friendly points. The home screen has more points to plot shortcuts and the widgets is remarkable.
Google has given the Browser app a more Chrome-like feature with tabs, most visited panes with thumbnails, and more settings to improve the experience. The Google Books app is obviously much stronger than it is on the phone, thanks in large to the ability to view in landscape, page transitions, and customizing display. Video chat is supported through Google Talk with a front-facing camera and the ability to switch to the rear camera. GTalk users on a Xoom can communicate with users on a desktop.
Many in attendance were disappointed to hear that Google did not announce the Google Music store, but the company did update the Google media player. Music now features a carousel/cover-flow display that shows the albums stored on-screen. Playback is also accessible through a notification window on the homescreen that third-party developers will be able to use. Below are hands-on videos of both.