The New Features in Android Honeycomb 3.1
Google officially unveiled the next update to Android Honeycomb at the Google I/O developer conference last week. It's not a new platform, but it has some significant improvements over Honeycomb version 3.0.
Android Honeycomb has performed more like a beta test than a polished tablet operating system, but the Honeycomb 3.1 update does much to smooth the rough spots and make Honeycomb a much better experience .
Here are some things that changed for the better.
Most of the evidence is anecdotal, but many people who have already gotten the update say their tablets crash far less often. The original version tended to crash fairly frequently, so more stability is reason enough to look forward to 3.1.
It seems like a small thing, but Honeycomb was unable to connect with USB devices until the 3.1 update. Now Honeycomb tablets can accept thumbdrives, cameras, keyboards, a mouse and just about anything else that connects via USB. (Keep in mind that some tablets have micro-USB ports, requiring an adapter or micro-USB cable.)
Better Adobe Flash support
One of the draws of Honeycomb tablets over the iPad was supposed to be Adobe Flash, which is required to view the vast majority of videos and interactive content on the Internet. However, Flash performance has been pretty dismal. Honeycomb 3.1 manages to improve Flash performance with Flash 10.3. It's not perfect, so expect some lag, especially with high-definition video, but it's a big improvement.
The app bar on the left hand side, which shows previously opened apps, is now scrollable, something so obvious that it should have been available from day one. Regardless, it's much easier to manage multiple apps and jump between them.
There's also an option to resize widgets, which is much cooler than it sounds because you can customize how much room widgets take on the home screen. Want more viewing area for an app? Just drag it wider or taller (or both).
There's surprisingly little content for Honeycomb tablets, simply because the functionality isn't there. Netflix and Hulu, despite being on any other piece of technology you can think of, haven't made it onto Honeycomb yet. While Honeycomb users wait, they can now use the dedicated movie rental store to get standard-definition movies for $3 and high-definition movies for $4. Netflix will have more selection and options, but this is a nice interim fix.