With the arrival of Android™ 3.1, Honeycomb, a lot more has changed than the name of the popular operating system from Google™. It's virtually transformed the capabilities of tablet devices, and in the process, changed the perception of "computing" overnight.
Now thanks to Honeycomb and the ability to access cloud-based applications, tablets are replacing desktop and laptop computers for thousands of consumers. Historically speaking, this is a huge shift in the way we think of that device called a "computer."
To truly gauge the impact that Honeycomb will have on tablet devices, it’s important to look at the evolution of the computer itself. It used to be we thought of a computer as a purely functional device for tasks like doing spreadsheets and word processing. To perform these functions, you had to have software stored on your hard drive to work—everything was done locally.
You may not give it much thought, but today the vast majority of the things you do with your computer are done on the web. When was the last time you looked at a paper map to get directions? Or thumbed through the Yellow Pages to find a phone number? If you’re like me, it’s probably been a few years. But the web has changed other habits as well. Did you know that according to Nielsen™, most people surf the Internet while they watch TV? The fact is Google™ and other web browsers have changed the way we get information and interact with other forms of media altogether.
Whether it’s connecting with friends, shopping for anything from diapers to cars, listening to music on Rhapsody™, reading the latest bestsellers or The New York Times, watching TV shows on Hulu™, or transferring money between bank accounts, your computing world lives online. It’s made day-to-day tasks far more efficient and enabled millions of users to be able to perform tasks and chores with their browser without leaving the house.
While the majority of day-to-day PC use is still done on a laptop, consumers have become more and more accustomed to mobility and freedom. Lugging around a 3-pound laptop (not to mention all of the cords and carrying cases it requires) is far from ideal and becomes tiresome quickly.
Tablets, on the other hand, are designed completely with mobility and functionality in mind. The truth is, for most of us, there’s little need to have a desktop or laptop computer now that tablets have become empowered with greater applications and more far-reaching capabilities. Now you can access nearly all of your “computing” needs with greater convenience and portability because tablets are specifically designed to perform real-world applications for real people.
With Android 3.1, Google has created an operating system that’s “built entirely for tablet.” The new user interface and customization features of Honeycomb have empowered tablet devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab™ 10.1. with greater applications and web-browsing capabilities. Now users can go from a 3-pound, 1-inch thick laptop that gets hot when sitting in your lap to an ultra-sleek, 1/3-inch, 1.25-pound tablet that transports as easily as carrying a magazine.
Graphic notifications provide information discreetly to you so you no longer have to search for the key, day-to-day updates and reminders you rely on everyday. Widgets bring a small and convenient version of your favorite apps right to your home screen for increased efficiency. The advent of cloud synching music (via Google Music™ or Amazon Cloud Player™), pictures (via Picasa™), and books (via Kindle™ App) allows you to get the media that you used to access on your laptop directly on your tablet via the web. There’s simply no need to have the hard drive space that you used to it when you can access your files online via cloud computing.
With new powerful tools including the ability to flip through two widgets at the same time, multitasking is greatly improved on tablet devices running Honeycomb. For those accustomed to pecking at smaller on-screen keypads, the full-size, horizontal keyboard is a huge advancement—especially when used in combination with the new and improved Gmail™ application.
Larger tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab™ 10.1 or the Galaxy Tab™ 8.9 allow for 10-finger typing. While you may not find it suitable to write a novel, it does allow far greater efficiency when sending emails, browsing the web, jotting down meeting notes, or updating your calendar.
While Honeycomb will certainly give many tablet users a platform that provides everything they need for casual day-to-day functions, it won’t result in the end of the computer—at least not yet. There are still many tasks that require running software locally and large hard drive capacities.
But many people who use mobile devices to manage emails, listen to music, watch videos and share photographs will find that their needs are met—and exceeded—with a larger-size tablet running Android 3.1. Looking back, I think we’ll see that Honeycomb was the platform that took tablets to the next level, and in turn, replaced the laptop for millions of real people.
The views and opinions expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of Samsung Telecommunications America, Samsung Electronics America Inc., or any of its parents/affiliates as well as any other individual employee thereof.
Nicholas DiCarlo is VP of product planning for the wireless terminals division of Samsung Telecommunications America and is passionate about making mobile devices for real people, non-techie people and super techie people, all the same.
Questions? Comments? Two-cents? Email Nicholas at email@example.com and he’ll get back to you with a reply—maybe even feature it in his next column—all from his Samsung Galaxy Tab, of course.