Rubin Demos Honeycomb Tablet, NFC on Nexus S with Gingerbread

Google's Android czar Andy Rubin during a presentation yesterday showed off a prototype of a Motorola Android tablet running Honeycomb, the next version of the Linux mobile OS that's optimized for slate PCs and due out early next year.

"He came with a prototype Motorola Android tablet, running a dual-core Nvidia chip and Honeycomb, the next iteration of Android. And he used it to show off a forthcoming update to Google’s mobile maps application," writes John Paczkowski at the Digital Daily All Things D Website.

The demonstration of the Motorola Android tablet came on the heels of Google's announcement that Gingerbread, Android 2.3, is now available for developers, and that the Gingerbread-powered Nexus S, the follow-up to the first Google-branded phone -- the Nexus 1 -- will go on sale next week.

Motorola Android tablet to square off against iPad 2?

Even with all the buzz surrounding Gingerbread, the industry is eagerly awaiting Honeycomb, the next version of Android designed specifically to maximize tablet PC performance, as many vendors have announced plans to roll out Android tablets over the next six months.

"We added new APIs to Honeycomb that allow an application to split its views to multiple views. On a a tablet they can be side by side, while on a phone they might be one after the other," Rubin said during the tablet demonstration.

The Honeycomb tablet looks "iPad-like," according to Lance Ulanoff of PCMag. "The roughly 10-inch, Motorola device was sleek, black, thin and sported an Android interface unlike any we've seen before. There was a very clean homepage, but the app page looked almost Apple iPad-like. Plus, when Rubin brought up the Gmail app, it looked almost exactly like Gmail on the iPad," writes Ulanoff.

Meanwhile, reports continue to surface suggesting that Apple will begin selling the next iPad model, being called the iPad 2, in February.

For its part, Gingerbread includes UI enhancements, improved copy and paste functionality, Internet phone tools and support for Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, which allows a smartphone to read electronic tags, meaning they could potentially act like credit cards and security cards.

In addition to be the first handset to ship with Android 2.3, the Nexus S is also the first Android phone to natively support NFC. "Since NFC support is actually part of Gingerbread, Rubin expects to see many more phones offering the technology. To demonstrate how it works, Rubin held the back of the phone (which has an NFC antenna embedded in the back of its case) against a special card. It read the code in the card, which led the phone to a URL and a video, which then played on the phone's large screen," writes Ulanoff.

The Nexus S will be available Dec. 16 at Best Buy for $199 with a T-Mobile contract and $529 unlocked.

Google is not the only player in the mobile space rolling out new OS updates. Apple just issued iOS 4.2, a major update for the iPad and iPhone, and Research In Motion just scooped up UI designer The Astonishing Tribe to refresh its new QNX-based mobile OS.


Google, Android, iPad, tablet, Motorola