The Motorola Xoom, a.k.a. the first Android Honeycomb tablet, released roughly two weeks ago today. I’ve had my hands on the Motorola Xoom since it launched on February 24th, and I must say, my opinions about Android Honeycomb have changed drastically since I first began playing with it. When Android Honeycomb first dropped, I was constantly looking for flaws and not enjoying the new experience. About a week later, I stopped being biased and accepted Honeycomb for what it was. Even though Honeycomb might not be as polished as iOS, it’s still a damn good operating system. It’s a powerful evolution and a breath of fresh air in the tablet market.
First things first, the Xoom & Android Honeycomb feel like a large beta project. Hell, everything Google releases feels like a beta project. The Xoom has to be sent in for 6 days to get the upgraded 4G LTE radios, which will be a huge hassle. I honestly don’t feel like sending mine in, but I may need those 4G radios one day. Moreover, the SD card slot does not function on Android Honeycomb and Flash 10.2 has not been optimized for Tegra 2 yet, although both should be fixed in the next few weeks.
One thing I have noticed is that most tech journalists are much more harsh on Android Honeycomb than they are on iOS. One of the most prevalent complaints are the applications, but that’s a fair complaint. However, the day the iPad first launched, it didn’t have thousands of applications optimized especially for it. Yes, most applications worked because iOS is the EXACT same on the iPhone or iPad, but it took time for developers to creatively make use of the bigger display. Same thing with Android Honeycomb. Out of the gate the app count surely doesn’t seem impressive, but two months from now there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of great applications designed for the tablets.
The new Fragments API in Android Honeycomb allows for very intuitive, desktop like applications. On the left hand side of the screen you have all of your menus/selection options, and the right side of the screen changes depending on what you did on the left hand side. It works beautifully, and the applications that have made use of it so far (CNN, Pulse, Gmail etc) look phenomenal. Moreover, more developers will be making games exclusively for Android. An MMORPG called Vendetta Online is releasing soon exclusively for Android and will allow for cross platform play between Android, Mac, and Windows! Expect more quality software like this on Android in the future.
More common complaints are glitches, battery life, and slowdowns. Yes, glitches and slowdowns are there. Do they ruin/hinder the experience at all? Heck no. People fail to realize that Android Honeycomb is a much more sophisticated interface than iOS. When you take into account everything Android does over iOS (widgets, customization, live wallpapers, true multitasking, better web browsing etc.), of course battery life and performance will take small hits. But in the grand scheme of things, Android has improved tenfold from Android 1.0 and performs amazingly well for everything it does. iOS is an app driven interface, which isn’t a bad thing, but the user has no freedom to customize the device to make it their own. The experience gets boring for someone who has used iDevices for a few years now. If you took a tech blogger’s iPad and compared it to a random 80-year old grandmother’s iPad, they would nearly look identical. But if you took my Xoom and compared it to anyone else’s in the world, I guarantee they would look completely different.
It isn’t fair to compare the performance of Android Honeycomb to iOS for previously stated reasons. I get a laugh when a tech journalist “compares” Android Honeycomb to iOS and says Honeycomb isn’t as fast and continues on to crown iOS/the iPad 2 like it’s perfect. Someone who reviews technology for a living should make it clear that Android has much more going on at any given time compared to iOS.
Another funny thing I see people say a lot is the Motorola Xoom/Android Honeycomb will never be as popular as the iPad 2/iOS. Uhh, okay? Why does it matter to YOU which one is more popular? Use both, see which one you like more, and go with it. Android Honeycomb will catch on and so will the Motorola Xoom. They aren’t aimed at the same audiences. Apple markets the iPad as this magical, cute, family friendly device while the Xoom is marketed as this totally bad ass, rugged machine that can turn into a spaceship if you try to grab it.
Android Honeycomb is a blazing fast interface with a few bugs and glitches here and there, and that’s expected from a brand new system. Will that be fixed in a few weeks/months? Heck yes it will. Will Android Honeycomb have tons of great applications in a few months? Yes, it will. Give it time people. Don’t just dismiss Android Honeycomb because the moment it released it wasn’t as polished as little ol’ iOS that’s been out since 2007. It’s a much more sophisticated operating system and will take time to completely optimize, but when it does, you better bet it will be a sweet experience.