Google’s Android OS 3.0 Is for Tablets, Not Smartphones

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Tablets are getting an exclusive treatment when Android OS 3.0, aka Honeycomb, hits the market: the new version of Google’s operating system will never see the light of day on smartphones.

Several Android OS OS 3.0-based tablets were announced earlier this month at CES, including Motorola Xoom, but all the smartphones unveiled at that tradeshow are going to run Android OS 2.1, 2.2, or 2.3.

Motorola Xoom with Android OS 3.0Honeycomb supports higher screen resolutions than OS 2.x, and has a user interface created for large screens — a UI that wouldn’t really work on a smartphone screen because so many of the elements would be tiny and therefore hard to control.

A Tale of Two Versions
“We took the opportunity with Android 3.0 to enhance the UI. Right now it’s a tablet operating system,” said Dave Burke, Director of Engineering of Android at Google, when asked whether or not Honeycomb would be coming to smartphones sometime in the future.

This lends credence to previous reports that smartphones would continue on with Android 2.x, while tablets moved on to Android 3.x. But given the split, it may have been a misnomer on the part of Google to refer to Honeycomb as Android OS 3.0, as it may leave smartphone users thinking they have an outdated version of the operating system simply because they are running something in the 2.x series when, in fact, they have the most recent one for smartphones.

Information leaking out about the next version of Google’s operating system, code-named Ice Cream, indicates that this version will be called Android OS 2.4, and will therefore be for smartphones.

Google does intend to rectify this split sometime down the road, however. Burke said that the company intends to unite the numbers systems, so that Android OS 2.x is no longer just for smartphones and OS 3.x for tablets.

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