Android 3.0 Honeycomb SDK Emulator Shows Signs of Smartphone Compatibility

Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) is for tablets only, right? That has been the word so far, with the Honeycomb operating system only seeing its home on as-of-yet unreleased tablets. But while digging around in the Honeycomb SDK, something interesting was uncovered. When you switch the default emulator screen resolution from the WXGA 1280×768 default to a more smartphone friendly WVGA, a new UI shell is triggered looking much less like a version of Android built specifically for tablets and a little more like something we’d see on a smartphone.

It’s hard to tell if this is a sign of early work being done to bring the current Android 2.x line of smartphone operating systems into sync with Android 3.0, or merely left over vestigial traces of the OS Honeycomb was built up from. The actual Android launcher crashes, so a replacement like Launcher Pro is needed to even explore this down-sized version of Honeycomb.

Gone are most of the tablet-friendly additions and back is the standard smartphone lockscreen. The new browser works fine, however, despite a lack of visible tabs. That status bar returns to something looking even pre-Gingerbread, so it is possible what we are seeing is just the starting-off point from which Honeycomb was born.

What do you guys think? Is this a sign of things to come or merely a sign of where we have come from? More images at the source below.

[via Engadget]

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  • CurrentWeb

    Its probably just left over code. I was looking through the system dump and saw a LOT of things that just seemed like leftovers or half finished work. I think judging the future of Honeycomb smartphones based on this emulator is silly. Then again, brand new code to register screen dimensions is not really leftover code, but added code. Great, now I’m think-typing…

  • hotmann

    interesting find. Also brings up an interesting question: if more phones get the atrix style laptop dock…will the UI switch to the more tablet friendly version when docked?

  • mola

    I didn’t expect the smartphone versions to stay or end in the 2.x range. I assumed a similar ios strategy. 3.0 being the first to start on high resolution screens.

  • Lee

    Maybe we will see an Atrix like tablet dock for HoneyComb smartfones in the future. :)

  • jmax

    There’s hope! More reason to hold off for a dual-core phone.
    The Honeycomb lock screen (tablet version) is waaaaay cooler. Blue glooowing orb FTW!

  • Zagh

    I think I believe the Vice President of Engineering of Android over a buggy emulator which doesn’t even have the right orientation.

    http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/honeycomb-may-never-come-to-mobiles-922897

    Phones will be 2.X, Tablets will be 3.X.

  • Zagh

    ^ I mean Director of Engineering. I rushed like the Honeycomb emulator.

  • Major

    Both. You’re looking at both legacy code, and where future development will likely occur.

    Gingerbread and Honeycomb were branches developed in parallel, so it makes sense that the UI tweaks of Gingerbread would not be seen in Honeycomb.

    I think the goal was to get Honeycomb out the door as quickly as possible, without having the hindrance of trying to support every device type. But at some point the development of both branches is likely to converge again, whenever it makes sense from a software engineering standpoint. Perhaps Google will be waiting for the development community to merge their two branches for them. :P

    With respect to the the VP of Android Engineering, his statement is an “at this moment in time” statement. If he were to have said, “sure we’re going to release Honeycomb (or a later branch) for phones, just whenever we can get back around to it,” that would not bode well for early 2011 device sales.

  • Eric

    Consider Android Head Andy Rubin and Head of UI/UX Mattias Duarte have both, in seperate interviews, confirmed that honeycomb is coming to phones, I don’t get how people are just figuring this out?

  • http://ADWheelerPhotography.com ADWheeler Photography

    One word… Gingerbeard. Lets get there first. Then we can worry about cereal.

  • Álmos

    Yeah, this pretty much proves that they used Froyo as the base of Honeycomb, NOT Gingerbread. This is a bit scary, developing completely separate versions for phones and tablets doesn’t seem to be a good idea. THIS would really increase fragmentation.

    I really hope that Gingerbread is just a “rouge” version developed only for the release of Nexus S. It makes sense: they just tweaked the theme a tiny bit, and dumped a few stable features of honeycomb on it, and released it to have something in time for the holidays. Let’s just hope Ice Cream will be based on Honeycomb, at it’s core anyway.

  • http://www.distantlyyours.com Dan Hiester

    Skip to 5:45 on this video: http://www.engadget.com/2010/12/06/motorola-android-tablet-prototype-makes-a-cameo-at-d-dive-into/

    This video is a little old, but, I mean… has something changed since this video came out? Rubin clearly says that Honeycomb includes APIs that allow developers to make their applications display with one layout on a phone, and a different layout on a tablet.

    Eventually, he says: “We added new APIs to Honeycomb, that will be available on phones…”

    Is he saying the APIs will be available on the phones, not the OS? Or both? My understanding was the latter.

  • Zagh

    @Dan Nothing stopping them from bringing select HC APIs like fragment API to a future 2.X release. So if the app is targetted at this new 2.X version, it shows up on Tablets and phones, but if it’s targetted at 3.0 it shows up on tablets only.

  • Zagh

    @Eric Except neither of them confirmed that Honeycomb is coming to phones. Rubin was wishy washy on the subject, saying “it’s a bit a both” before explaining the fragment API (which could be in a version other than HC) and Duarte said “it’s the direction Android is moving in”, which is very different from saying “it’s coming to phones”.

    All will probably come clear at the event next week, so no point stressing over it.

  • Bela

    Regardless of what this actually is, I think it foolish to have phones continue with the 2.x and tablets continue with 3.x. Not only will that limite the number of updates in the line (that will actually make sense), it will provide confusion to the user. It’s sort of like what graphics cards have done… they ran out of numbers so they sort of started low all over again. This isn’t a problem for the informed user, but for the guy that is looking at numbers alone (the average consumer) this will get pretty confusing.

  • JaylanPHNX

    I hate to say … Wait, I love to say I told you so!

  • Darkly

    I wouldn’t want honeycomb on my phone. It want designed to be. I’d rather get gingerbread now and for ice cream

  • DocWllk

    I hope it is not as difficult to get Honeycomb on phones as it seems.

  • Din

    Ohh no please!!!… now every android-troll never rest until 3.0 be release for smartphone.
    “I don´t want anymore 2.3, it is slow and old, I want 3.0!!!”

  • Bunie

    Phones based on the Tegra 2 would benefit a lot from Android 3.0, i think. I believe this will be ported to the Droid Bionic, either officially or unofficially. The code is open source, right? So Motorola could take it and work with it. it sounds like its half done anyway. I believe we will see this on the Bionic and the LG phone (forget its name).