Google may have two-track Android tablet plan
Honeycomb could require dual-core processors, Gingerbread support low end models
Published: 5 January, 2011
Google may be planning a dual-track strategy for Android tablets, with the upcoming Honeycomb OS release being targeted firmly at the high end, and requiring dual-core processors and high resolution screens. This would leave the new Gingerbread OS for the lower end products, which are dominating the first wave of Android slates.
Device makers have been frustrated at the lack of an Android release optimized for large screen products like tablets. Some vendors, notably Samsung, went ahead with the existing OS despite a less-than-perfect experience for some applications - and most Android OEMs stuck to the 7-inch form factor rather than the 10-inch size. The recent Gingerbread update improved matters for 7-inch tablets, but many manufacturers are still waiting for the full tablet support promised by the forthcoming Honeycomb version.
However, several sources indicate that Honeycomb will not be suited to low cost or simple devices, but will be geared for iPad challengers. Bobby Cha, managing director of Korean consumer electronics firm Enspert, told PC Magazine that Honeycomb would require at least a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor (like the Nvidia Tegra2 or the new Freescale platform). This would mean many current tablets would not be upgradeable to Honeycomb, as they will lack the processor power needed - which would explain why many firms, such as LG and Lenovo, have said they will wait for Honeycomb to launch into this high profile sector.
Google has not revealed hardware requirements for its new release yet, though it has shown a Motorola prototype running the OS. If the reports prove right, Honeycomb will be specific to high end tablets and superphones (though with a range of screen sizes), while there may be another update to Froyo (Android 2.2) and Gingerbread (2.3), targeted at single-core smartphones and low end tablets. This raises the issue of Android's worst problem, fragmentation, becoming even more serious.