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Five things Google needs to fix in Android 3.0 Honeycomb

Melissa J. Perenson | May 9, 2011
Make no mistake: Google's tablet-optimized Android 3.0 represents a huge improvement overall over previous versions of Google's mobile operating system. But that's not to say it gets everything right.

Make no mistake: Google's tablet-optimized Android 3.0 represents a huge improvement overall over previous versions of Google's mobile operating system. But that's not to say it gets everything right. After extensive use across multiple tablets, I've identified five things that Google needs to address in Honeycomb.

1. Improve Image Rendering

Photos viewed in Android 3.0's Gallery app appear fuzzy and washed out when compared to when you view them on other devices As I photographer, I noticed this problem immediately upon loading my own pictures on the Motorola Xoom. Ultimately, the problem comes down to Honeycomb's apparent inability to correctly render images in the image Gallery-and elsewhere. After weeks of back and forth, a Google spokesperson acknowledged the problem, but couldn't give a timeline on a fix. Thus far, there hasn't been one.

The problem is striking when you view the same image displayed on the Honeycomb tablets side-by-side with Apple's iPad 2 and even the Android 2.2-based Samsung Galaxy Tab 7-inch. On the Honeycomb tablets-Motorola Xoom, T-Mobile G-Slate, Acer Iconia A500, and Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101-the images lack sharpness and detail. Colors appear off , too; they look muted and lack vibrance. While some of this can be attributed to differences among the actual displays themselves, I also have the sense that something is off-kilter with the color temperature and white balance in Honeycomb. it lowered the default color temperature in Android 2.3.3 to cause muted colors. The reasoning for messing with Honeycomb's defaults would likely be the same, too: Just as in Gingerbread, the interface is darker, so too does Honeycomb have a darker interface. But the end result remains unsatisfactory.

2. Make the Keyboard Better

The stock Honeycomb keyboard is much improved over that in Android 2.x, and it includes a pleasing QWERTY design and useful context-sensitive keys (such as .com and @). But there's no number row-a game-changer once you've tried it on tablets like the Asus Transformer (which has a custom Asus keyboard) and forthcoming HP TouchPad (which runs WebOS). And that color scheme has got to go: light gray characters inset on darker gray keys just don't pop, so the keys don't stand out enough. The subtle blue highlight that shows you've pressed a key is a good touch, though I personally like the pop-up letters that appear when you type on the Apple iPhone keyboard instead. However, the blue tint effect needs to be widened; as it stands, you can hardly see the blue glow because it's covered by your finger that's on the key.

3. Tweak the Interface

Those three core navigation buttons at the bottom left of every Honeycomb screen? Let's send them back to the graphic designers for an overhaul. Of the three light trace designs, only one-the home button-is actually clear enough in its function. And even that's debatable: One colleague admitted to me he thought that the default home icon was an up arrow at first.

 

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