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Google previews Android 3.0, releases SDK and platform highlights

Google has released the SDK of Android 3.0 (aka Honeycomb) to developers and posted a list of new user features on the Android Developers blog.

The SDK is available now for budding developers and hardcore fans to download and have a play with. For those lacking the necessary l33t 5k1llz, time and resources to do this, Google has kindly posted some screengrabs, giving us an idea of what Honeycomb will look like on tablets.

This ‘holographic’ UI is the same interface we saw in action on the Motorola Xoom. We can confirm that it looks fantastic in the flesh. These images don’t quite do it justice as you don’t get a sense of how fluid everything looks, but they represent many of the new things that Honeycomb will bring to Android tablets.

Click through the following thumbnails to have a gander for yourself.

Source: Android Developers Blogspot

You get a total of five homescreens which are fully customisable with app shortcuts, widgets and wallpapers – standard Android fare. Each homescreen is bordered by two status bars, as opposed to the one which sits at the top of your Android phone’s screen.

The Action bar sits at the top of the screen and gives you access to things like Google Search with Voice Actions and your Apps. The action bar is context sensitive and changes depending on which app you’re using at the time.

The System bar is at the bottom, features navigation soft keys and keeps you notified of things like signal strength, battery power and other updates.

The new-look Android 3.0 keypad. Selecting text is done by long-pressing on a single word; after that you can then adjust the selection area by moving the arrows accordingly. The context-sensitive Action Bar at the top of the screen changes to give you cut/copy and paste options. The keypad itself has also been rethought for tablets, including a tab key on the left.

That damn smiley key is still there though.

The Android browser has been totally redesigned for tablets. Most significant are the tabs, which replace the ‘multiple windows’ approach of the stock Android browser on phones. Ingeniosuly, you can also sync bookmarks with Google Chrome. Kind of like you already can with Android phones but more elegantly, we imagine.

Apps you’ve been using will be displayed in the system bar under a Recent Apps tab. This allows for easy recent multitasking, saving you from having to hop between app shortcuts.

You also get little snapshots to help remind you what you were doing with each app – like the windows you get with the Chrome browser on your PC.

The Camera has been redesigned to make use of a larger screen. This’ll make selecting settings and switching between front and back cameras easier. You can also full-screen photo albums and pictures in the new Gallery app.

Searching for contact info will be easier as well, thanks to a new two column layout. This allows you to scroll down your contacts list in the left-hand column while viewing a specific contacts’ details in the right. Emails also make use of this new two-pane layout to a similar effect.

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