Google’s Android OS has thus far been a smartphone centric OS. Google has gone on record to iterate that the Froyo ( Android 2.2) was not optimized for tablet computers. This was in the last quarter of 2010.

Google has been a busy bee and it has has released two versions of Android, Gingerbread (ver. 2.3) and Honeycomb (ver 3.0).

Gingerbread is more of an incremental update to the smartphone OS. However, Honeycomb is a major user interface update to suit tablet computers. Honeycomb was briefly previewed at CES when it was announced in tandem with the release of the Motorola Xoom tablet.

The tech press were given a brief hands-off preview with the OS. However, Google released an early preview of the Software Development Kit (SDK) for Honeycomb. The previews generally stated that the SDK emulator for Honeycomb was slow and thus did not truly reflect the slickness of the OS.

The following are a few screenshots of the OS:

Honeycomb's home screen

Adding widgets to the home screens

So far, the initial impressions have been promising. However, the addition of Honeycomb creates another possible fork in the fragmentation of the Android OS.

In interview with Matias Duarte, Android’s Director of User Experience, future versions of Android will have a similar appearance to Honeycomb.

Interestingly, Honeycomb has dispensed with the use of physical buttons. Gingerbread has also reduced its reliance on the physical/optical trackball as evidenced on the Google Nexus S.

No doubt, 2011 is the year of the tablet and Google has begun the year with all guns blazing.

Over to you Apple.

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