Google Android 2.3 Gingerbread? That’s so yesterday morning. Last evening Google’s Any Rubin pulled a prototype Motorola Tablet out of his bag, and it was running an early build of Android 3.0 Honeycomb. He says the new operating system will be available “next year” and it’s designed to work with both phones and tablets.
That means it supports higher resolution displays — and not just by letting apps scale to full screen. Some apps, like Gmail, will now support a two-pane approach where you can see a list of messages on the left and the body of a message on the right. You know, like Apple’s Mail app for iPad.
TechCrunch also notes that the tablet appears to have a new lock screen, which you can unlock simply by dragging the lock icon in any direction. There’s also a new desktop layout. It still supports icons for apps and widgets, but the tablet doesn’t have any physical buttons. This mean that if you’re holding a tablet in portrait or landscape mode, or even upside down, you don’t have to reach around the tablet at an awkward angle to reach the buttons.
Rubin says the way Android 3.0 will work on both smartphones and tablets is that developers can write apps that have multiple views. On a tablet, both of those views may show up at the same time, stacked side-by-side (like the Gmail app), while on a smartphone, you may only see one screen at a time (like the current Gmail app).