Samsung was so eager to release an iPad competitor, the Galaxy Tab, that it did so without waiting for Google to create a tablet-optimized version of the Android operating system. On Monday, a Google engineer showed a prototype tablet computer running the new Android 3.0, which is designed for that form factor.
The demo, by Android engineering chief Andy Rubin, was presented at the Dive Into Mobile conference currently taking place in San Francisco. The Motorola-made tablet, according to Rubin, has a dual-core Nvidia processor, supports video chat, and, according to observers, appeared to be a 10-inch screen.
Motorola has announced it will launch two tablets next year, a seven-inch and a 10-inch. The dual-core processor would be a competitive advantage over the current iPad, but tablets are expected to leapfrog each other as other device categories have.
The not-yet-released Android 3.0 is dubbed Honeycomb, and Rubin said it was designed specifically for the tablet form factor, in addition to supporting smartphones. Honeycomb is expected to be released in 2011, but Rubin said the tablet “isn’t due out for a while.”
In the demo, Rubin presented Google Maps for Mobile 5.0. The new version of Google Maps, which is expected to be released within a few days, includes 3-D viewpoints. The tablet’s 3-D capability allows building shadows to be displayed as the view is zoomed in, and a 3D landscape is shown when the map is tilted.
The prototype tablet had no hardware buttons, unlike the hardware home button on Apple’s iPad. All the buttons are on-screen, and they reposition themselves to follow the tablet’s orientation.
‘Risk Is Fragmentation’
Al Hilwa, program director at industry research firm IDC, noted that Android 2.3, which Samsung adapted, was designed primarily for smartphones, and 3.0’s tablet-oriented capability is “crucial” for applications to be developed that…