January 27, 2011, 2:46 PM — Tablet application developers can rejoice now that Google has released its software development kit for Android 3.0, the new edition of the platform designed specifically for tablets.
Dubbed "Honeycomb" by Google, the new platform will be the first edition that will support applications and programs designed specifically for the large touchscreens of tablet computers. Although tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab have run on older versions of Android, Google has said that tablets based on non-Honeycomb editions of Android will not properly run applications downloaded from the Android App Market.
So we know that Honeycomb is tablet-centric. But what does that entail? Here are five key features that will make Honeycomb an upgrade for tablet users in the near future:
* Tabs, not windows
On smartphones, Android's browser lets you open several websites at once in different "windows" that you can switch through by clicking on a button and accessing the windows screen. This makes sense for smartphones, since having traditional browser tabs would clog up the devices' limited screen size.
But for tablets, the "windows" feature could quickly become a royal pain. This is why Honeycomb's browser will support browser tabs, meaning your browsing experience on Android tablets will now be more like the browsing experience on your desktop computer and less like the browsing experience on your smartphone.
* Easier Gmail with two columns and "Action Bar"
Unlike smartphone-based Android versions of Gmail that simply presents messages in a long single column, the Honeycomb version will be divided into two columns that will let you more easily navigate and manage messages. So instead of having to click over for a separate window to look at sent or deleted messages, you'll be able to click on their folders on the left-hand column.