Late last week, Google announced Android 3.2 (codenamed Honeycomb, just like Android 3.0 and Android 3.1). Some devices, like the Motorola Xoom, are already getting updated to the new version, while others will be getting them in the weeks and months to come, depending on how quickly companies and carriers get the update rolling. Then there are of course new tablets, like the Huawei MediaPad, that will ship with this version from day one.
Now that it is official, we can list off the features Android 3.2 offers for users and developers:
- Optimizations for a wider range of tablets. A variety of refinements across the system ensure a great user experience on a wider range of tablet devices.
- Compatibility zoom for fixed-sized apps. A new compatibility display mode gives users a new way to view these apps on larger devices. The mode provides a pixel-scaled alternative to the standard UI stretching, for apps that are not designed to run on larger screen sizes.
- Media sync from SD card. On devices that support a removable SD card, users can now load media files directly from the SD card to apps that use them.
- Extended screen support API. For developers who want more precise control over their UI across the range of Android-powered devices, the platform's screen support API is extended with new resource qualifiers and manifest attributes, to also allow targeting screens by their dimensions.
Android 3.x is reserved for tablets, but Google is already hard at work on the next version of Android (codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich), which is slated for Q4 2011. While we don't know what version number it will have, rumors have previously suggested Android 4.0. The big change with Ice Cream Sandwich will be that it works on all devices. That means Google will be porting features from Android 3.0 (codenamed Honeycomb) to the smartphone, including the holographic user interface, more multitasking, the new launcher, and richer widgets.
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