What’s this oddly curved box we see before us? Ah, yes, it’s Motorola’s (joint) second attempt at the Android tablet game. The Xoom 2 is another 10.1-inch widescreen Honeycomb offering, looking to make up for the lost opportunities of its predecessor — slimmer, faster and certainly packing more vertices. While we put it through its paces, we thought you’d appreciated some close-up shots with what appears to be the final retail model. First impressions? Those corners certainly do help keep it in our hands, and performance seemed suitably speedy. It’s worth noting that — at least on first impressions — Motorola hasn’t tampered excessively with the Honeycomb, something we weren’t too happy about on Moto’s Droid RAZR. We also suspect that splash-proof nanotech coating could also be acting as fingerprint magnet. Delve into the secrets of the fitted retail box, some tablet comparisons and a touching reunion with its smartphone sibling in our gallery below, or catch a brief video tour after the break.
Motorola Xoom 2 unboxing
Back in October, as you may recall, Adobe unveiled its Touch Appsfamily — a collection of six tools designed to make life easier and more tactile for tablet-using creative types. Today, those apps are finally available on the Android Market, for tablets running Android 3.1 or higher. The sextet includes Photoshop Touch, Collage and Proto, among other Adobe products, each of which is priced at $9.99. These applications will also play a central role in Adobe’s forthcoming Creative Cloud initiative, which will allow users to share, view and transfer files across multiple devices. That isn’t expected to launch until the first half of next year, while the full suite of Touch Apps for iOS users should be released by “early 2012″ (Adobe Ideas is the only member currently available on iTunes). Android slate wielders can get their hands on all the Touch Apps now, though Adobe says they’ll need at least an 8.9-inch, 1280 x 800 display to get the most out of it. Check out the source link below for more details, or head past the break for the full PR treatment.
Want Honeycomb on your TV? You can take your chances with a Google TV-enabled set from Sony, or you can get the full Android experience by adding a connected tablet to your HD mix — if Istanbul-based Ardic gets its solution out the door, at least. The Turkish company’s prototype uses a 10-inch Android Honeycomb-based tablet to power a 65-inch LCD with 1080p support for basic gestures, like pinch and zoom. The display currently has two touch sensors, but a version with four sensors is on the way, which will bring multi-touch support. The tablet is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC, and includes 1GB of RAM, 16GB of flash memory, dual cameras, HDMI, USB, microSD and 3G and WiFi connectivity. A dock enables instant connectivity with the OEM TV, including HDMI for video and audio, and USB for touch input (a wireless version is in the works as well).
The devs customized Android to support 1080p output, and it appears to work quite seamlessly, as you’ll see in the embedded video. And this isn’t simply another goofy demo or proof of concept — the Turkish company is in talks with education and enterprise customers and hopes to bring this setup to production as a more power- and cost-efficient smart board alternative. The company eventually hopes to offer displays in a variety of sizes, that will all be powered by a pocketable device, such as a smartphone, but watch in wonder as the 65-inch proto we have today struts its stuff in the video after the break.
At AsiaD this week, Google’s Andy Rubin noted that there were at least six million Android tablets in use. That number included only those running Google services. One could question whether the briskly selling Nook Color — which is not open to Android apps at large — is relevant to that tally, at least from a developer perspective. It will certainly be the case, though, that the Kindle Fire — also expected to be a hot seller — will be an important addition to the number moving forward.
Still, Rubin conceded, it was a tally far behind that of the 30 million cumulative units of the iPad, which broke open the modern-day tablet category, extended its lead with the iPad 2, and will likely see another revision this coming spring. When Apple introduced its tablet device, it set a precedent for third-party developers by rewriting core applications to take advantage of the iPad’s larger display with “HD” versions. And while there are still far fewer native iPad apps than iPhone apps, Apple is far ahead in the race for native tablet software.
Google’s rolling in the dough in no small part due to Android’s success in the smartphone market. When it comes to tablets? Eh, not so much. Intrepid developer Al Sutton figures that only 3.4 million Honeycomb devices are currently in use, which pales in comparison to the number of slates sold by the competition in Cupertino. He arrived at the figure using Google’s data — Larry Page said that there are 190 million Android devices out there on yesterday’s earnings call, and the Android Developers website shows that only 1.8 percent of ‘droids accessing the Android Market during a recent two week period were running Google’s tablet OS. Do the math, and that’s just 3.42 million tablets running Android 3.x. It’s hardly an official figure, but it does indicate that Android’s got its work cut out for it the tablet space. That Ice Cream Sandwichbetter be mighty tasty if the bots from Mountain View are going to grab a bigger chunk of the market.
We discovered this little gem hidden deep within the recesses of the show floor at IDF 2011. It’s none other than Opera Mobile running on a Honeycomb tablet — not just any tablet, mind you, but Intel’s Oak Trail-powered (Atom Z670) Green Ridge device. That’s right, you’re looking at Opera’s web browser, compiled using the latest Android NDK and running natively on top of Android x86. First impressions? It’s fast, even without hardware acceleration — scrolling and zooming are smooth as butter, with no signs of checkerboarding anywhere. According to Phillip Grønvold of Opera software, this is just the beginning. Hardware acceleration is already in the works, along with Flash support.
Viewsonic has been taunting us a slew of slates for months, one of which we even got to manhandle way back in February. It seems the company is finally ready to deliver its ViewPads to the public though, and announced the availability of three models at IFA. The ViewPad 10pro has been around the block a few times by now and, after a limited run earlier, the Android 2.3 and Windows 7-running tablet will hit shelves on September 5th starting at €499 ($714) for the WiFi only version. Next up is the oft-teasedViewPad 7x, a 7-inch slice of Honeycomb that sports the custom, 3D ViewScene skin. A definitive date hasn’t been set for this 8GB, Tegra 2-powered device, but it’s expected to land before the end of the month for €349 ($499). Last, is the budget-minded ViewPad 7e. We don’t know much about this device, outside of the fact that it sports a 4:3 screen, most likely of the 7-inch variety, but it seems safe to assume we’re looking at another Android device. One with relatively low-power internals considering its estimated €169 ($242) price when it lands sometime in Q4.
The Mozilla team has been quietly toiling to bring Firefox to a mid-sized screen near you. It’s already a perpetual favorite on the desktop and has made a bit of a splash on Android phones, now the group has Honeycomb tablets squarely in its crosshairs. It’s still very much in the early stages of development but a few UI decisions have been made, including the choice to adhere pretty strictly to Android 3.0′s minimalist appearance. In landscape mode tabs will be represented as a persistent thumbnail bar on the left, but in portrait they’ll revert to the top with a more familiar appearance. The tabbed Awesome from the mobile version also returns. Check out the gallery below, as well as the source for more detail and more mockups.
We’re no strangers to SwiftKey here at Engadget HQ, and today TouchType is launching a major new version of everyone’s favorite Android virtual keyboard — SwiftKey Tablet X for devices running Honeycomb, and SwiftKey X for devices running Android 2.x. Both applications improve upon the original by using TouchType’s Fluency 2.0 artificial intelligence engine, a unique predictive phrase system which learns how you write. New features include cloud learning, which analyzes how you type in Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, and text messages to predict phrases in your style, plus keypress technology which continually monitors your typing precision and adapts the touch-sensitive area for each key to improve prediction accuracy. SwiftKey now supports 17 languages (with more coming soon) and is smart enough to interpret three languages at once. There’s also a handful of other enhancements, including support for themes which allow users to customize the look and feel of the keyboard. And that split keyboard option we first encountered at CES? It’s there of course, in the tablet version.
We’ve been testing SwiftKey Tablet X on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for a few days now, alongside SwiftKey X on a handful of phones (including the Nexus S and the EVO 3D), and it’s probably the best virtual keyboard we’ve used on Android yet. In fact, it’s now replacing the stock keyboard on all our HTC Sense-equipped handsets. Prediction accuracy improves quickly after you start using the keyboard, and we liked having the option to turn off the spacebar-triggered auto-completion of words and phrases. Another useful feature is the ability to display arrow / cursor keys on the phone version. The supplied themes are attractive (especially Neon), and the layouts are intuitive — although we’d have preferred the numbers to be arranged in a row instead of mimicking a numpad. Both applications are available today only for $1.99 in the Android Market. Regular pricing is $4.99 for SwiftKey Tablet X, and $3.99 for SwiftKey X. Take a look at our screenshot galleries below, and hit the break for our hands-on videos and more.
Have you heard of Evolio? Neither have we, but it might be time we all start paying attention to this Romanian start-up if its grandiose claims of tech stardom prove true. Heralding it as the “most powerful Android tablet” — and the one ring to rule them all — the Neura is a 1GHz dual core Tegra 2 processor-packing, 9.7-inch full HD displaying, Flash-capable slab of Eastern European engineering. Since its been (self-)declared king of the little green robot OS hill, the company’s aiming this market entry squarely at Apple’s iPad 2 — hoping its powers of 1080p and expandable memory can best that category titan. Unfortunately, the company’s proud boast only covers its hardware specs, leaving Froyo to underpower what could be a truly premium experience. A September update to Honeycomb is loosely mentioned, but with 3.2 already rolling out to Xooms, this baby’s starting to look dated. If owning an exotic tablet strikes your cooler-than-thou fancy, get your credit card set to import mode on July 25th. Informational video and its excellent Romanian-electro intro after the break.
Lenovo still hasn’t officially confirmed it, but all signs are pointing to an imminent US launch of its Android-based IdeaPad K1 tablet. It just hit the FCC under the “K1″ moniker earlier this month, and it’s now gotten a full blown listing on Buy.com, complete with specs and some pictures that show off Lenovo’s “custom-built Android interface.” Those specs include a 10.1-inch display, a Tegra 2 processor (not a Snapdragon as we had seen on the LePad), 32GB of storage, dual cameras (5 megapixel rear and 2 megapixel front-facing), a microSD card slot, a micro HDMI out, and even a SIM card slot — somewhat notably it’s also listed as coming with Netflix pre-installed. While most of those specs seem like a safe bet, others apparently aren’t quite set in stone, the listing alternatively mentions both Android 3.0 and Android 3.1, for instance, and both a 1280 x 720 and 1280 x 800 resolution (though the latter seems likely). What’s more, while Buy.com isn’t providing a price just yet, the tablet has also hit Krex Computers of all places, where it’s listed at $510. Hit up the gallery below for a closer look.
The US already knows when Samsung will launch its updated Galaxy Tab models and for how much, but that picture hasn’t been quite as lucid over in Europe. Amazon.de is doing its best to dissipate the mists of unknowing by listing the 16GB Galaxy Tab 8.9 at a price of €606.50 ($852), whether you’re buying the version with a black or white back. That sounds a relatively steep price, but it’s not clear whether we’re talking about the WiFi-only or 3G-equipped model. Notably, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 option is also listed alongside its 8.9-inch brethren, but there’s no price attached to it yet. All we can really say for now is that the wheels are in motion and these Honeycomb tablets look to be on their way to the Euro market at about the same time as they’ll hit the American one. Égalité!
It may be a bit difficult to pay attention to the spate of Honeycomb tablets that seem to be popping up left, right and center — you know, now that Ice Cream Sandwich has been officially promised — but what’s not easy to overlook is an 8.6mm slate. Checking in at a sliver of a pinch thinner than the illustrious iPad 2, Samsung’s rethought-out, redesigned and definitely-not-renamed Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the first Android tablet to date that seriously goes toe-to-toe with Apple in both specifications and design. Granted, the consumer models aren’t slated to ship out until June 8th, but given that Google handed us one last week during its annual I/O conference, we figured we’d spend the following weekend wisely. You know, photographing, benchmarking and testing this thing to the hilt. (Of note, the unit tested here was the Limited Edition model, devoid of TouchWiz, 3G and a microSD card slot, but is otherwise identical to shipping units aside from the design on the rear.)
The Tab 10.1 — not to be confused with the older, since-relabeled Tab 10.1v — weighs just 1.31 pounds (marginally besting the iPad 2′s 1.33 pound chassis), and if looks could kill, few people would’ve made it out of Moscone West with all organs functional. But as you well know, style only gets you in the door — it’s the guts, the software, and the marriage of it all that makes or breaks the tablet experience. Hop on past the jump to find out why we think Samsung truly delivered on the promise of a Google-powered tablet, and why you should all seriously consider socking away funds as early June approaches.
Hey look, the Flyer just got itself a bigger brother. A 10-inch tablet codenamed the HTC Puccini has been revealed by our old buddy 911sniper (who has a habit of finding and leaking HTC ROMs), living up to a longstanding rumor that places two 10-inch Android slates on HTC’s roadmap for this summer. It’s said to pack LTE for Cingular (AT&T) in the US and to be built atop Android 3.0.1. A 1.5GHz Qualcomm MSM8660 offers plenty of processing power within and screen resolution should match the 10-inch pack with 1280 x 800 pixels. Gazing at the above screenshot reveals a UI very similar to the Flyer’s Sense 3.0 look, including the Notes app being in a prime position, which could very well mean Magic Pen compatibility will also be part of the Puccini’s arsenal. You’ll know more about this as soon as we do.
Google Earth gets optimized for Honeycomb tablets, interior photos hit Google Maps next week (Video)
There may have been a slight shortage of Honeycomb-optimized apps to go along with the first round of tablets, but things are now starting to pick up a bit, and Google has now filled in one more gap itself. It’s just released a Honeycomb-optimized version of Google Earth, which brings with it support for fully textured 3D buildings that you can view from street level, as well as a new action bar on top that lets you jump between layers and other options. What’s more, Google has also now announced that its new Business Photos feature for Google Maps (Places, specifically) will begin to roll out next week, offering what’s effectively Street View for the inside of retailers and other buildings — with the owner’s permission, of course. Head on past the break for a demonstration of how it will work.
We had a chance to peek at a glass-protected dummy version of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 8.9 at CTIA, but the real thing popped up at an event in Germany over the weekend, in all its svelte gadget glory. Our friend Johannes went hands-on with the tablet in Frankfurt, and liked what he saw. The version he saw was noticeably thinner than the prototype 8.9-incher that we got to smudge up in March (it’s even slimmer than the iPad 2), and if this Europe appearance is any indication, Sammy may be on track to launch these sometime this summer, as promised. The launch date has yet to be announced, so if you can’t wait any longer to get your hands on the Android Honeycomb device, you can try the 10.1-inch version on for size beginning this month.
Android 3.1 gets namechecked by Adobe Flash Player 10.2, will be required to enjoy accelerated 720p video
Remember how Adobe said Flash 10.2 wasn’t living up to its full hardware-accelerated potential on Honeycomb thus far? Well, it seems the company’s found a solution by the name of Android 3.1. We’ve been inundated with tips (and have confirmed with Adobe) that there’s a sticky-sweet new build of Android on the way for the recent crop of slates that OEMs and carriers are rolling out, and that — just like last time — you’ll need that software to take advantage of all the hardware rendering and compositing that your Tegra 2 silicon can afford. With any luck, 720p playback won’t burn our eyeballs this time around. By the way, the Android Market item above was updated this morning to read “requires an upcoming release of Android 3″ rather than “Android 3.1,” but it’s unclear whether the original number was inaccurate or whether Adobe got in trouble.