First off Android 3.0 is designed specifically for devices with large screens (i.e. tablets) and right now there are no plans to bring it to smartphones, though some “features” might make it in to Android 2.2 and later releases. It will introduce a new virtual and what Google is calling “holographic” UI design that focuses much more on how the user interacts with the content in order to make it simple and easy to use. All the things we know and love are still there including easy multitasking, the awesome notifications system, home screens customization, widgets and everything else. But in Android 3.0, they get a 3D effect that is supposed to make them even better than before.
Throughout all the menus you will have quick access to notifications, system status, and soft navigation buttons in a System Bar, available at the bottom of the screen. The System Bar is always present and designed to be the centerpiece of the Android 3.0 experience if you will. Don’t worry, when you want to go full screen to watch the latest movie or YouTube video you can activate the new “lights out mode” which allows you to dim the System Bar for unobstructed full-screen viewing. To improve the overall application experience, The Action Bar is always present when an application is in use, although its content, theme, and other properties are managed by the application rather than the system. The Action Bar is another central focus for users, especially with action items and an overflow dropdown menu, which users will frequently access in a similar manner in most applications.
Android 3.0 will feature five customizable Home screens for you to configure any way you want using widgets, app shortcuts, and wallpapers. Each screen is configured in a way that allows content to look good no matter which way you turn a device. Since Android 3.0 is designed for tablets, Google knows that many folks will be using this to get work done and to do that you need to be able to multitask. For people who switch between apps a lot you can use the Recent Apps list in the System Bar to see the tasks underway and quickly jump from one application to another. Android 3.0 also features a completely redesigned keyboard from previous versions of Android. The Android soft keyboard is redesigned to make entering text fast and accurate, the keys have been reshaped and repositioned for improved targeting, and new keys have been added, such as a Tab key, to provide richer and more efficient text input. To keep you in the flow the new UI lets users quickly select a word by press-hold and then adjust the selection area as needed by dragging a set of bounding arrows to new positions. Users can then select an action from the Action Bar, such as copy to the clipboard, share, paste, web search, or find. This should go a long way towards winning over some of the business users.
Out of the box Android 3.0 features built-in support for Media/Photo Transfer Protocol lets users instantly sync media files with a USB-connected camera or desktop computer, without needing to mount a USB mass-storage device. Users can also connect full keyboards over either USB or Bluetooth, for a familiar text-input environment. Wi-Fi connectivity has been improved and support for Bluetooth tethering means that more types of devices can share the network of your Android 3.0 device.
The browser includes new features that let users navigate and organize more efficiently. Multiple tabs replace browser windows and a new “incognito” mode allows anonymous browsing. Bookmarks and history are presented and managed in a single unified view.
Camera and Gallery
The Camera application has been redesigned to take advantage of a larger screen for quick access to exposure, focus, flash, zoom, front-facing camera, and more. To let users capture scenes in new ways, it adds built-in support for time-lapse video recording.
The Contacts app uses a new two-pane UI and Fast Scroll to let users easily organize and locate contacts. Contact information is presented in a card-like UI, making it easier for users to read and edit contacts.
The Email application uses a new two-pane UI to make viewing and organizing messages more efficient. The app lets users select one or more messages, then select an action from the Action Bar, such as moving them to a folder. Hopefully we can get “Mark All As Read” feature I mean come on Google.
Alright folks, that is everything you ever wanted to know about Android 3.0. The Motorola Xoom is just the beginning. Android 3.0 should start popping up on tablets all over the place such as LG’s G-Slate and more than likely the next Galaxy Tab from Samsung. What do you think, how does Android 3.0 stack up to previous versions?