The Galaxy Pad from Samsung running the latest version of the Android OS from Google created the biggest splash at the IFA 2010 at Berlin and is also considered the next big thing to hit the tablet segment after the iPad. In fact, most of the tablets that were on display at the IFA were based on the Android 2.2 Froyo while almost every other day we come across news of new tablet launches having the Android as the OS either in its earlier iteration that would eventually lead to Froyo, or Froyo right out of the box as is the case now. This apart, some of the bigwigs of the industry like Dell or Acer all have revealed grand plans of coming up with tablets running the Android Froyo.
However, with so much of Android around, what comes as a real shocker is the recent revelation from Google who announced this version of Android isn’t suited for a tablet environment. This was revealed by Google’s director of products for mobile, Hugo Barra, who went on record saying: “Froyo is not optimized for use on tablets.” However, there was the hint of future versions of Android being devoid of this shortcoming.
If this isn’t enough, there is more bad news. Google is even believed to be considering cutting off access to the Android Marketplace for those tablets that lack the minimum hardware requirement for running the Android 2.2 Froyo. This perhaps is the reason why a lot of tablets have stated the absence of Google Marketplace support in spite of them having impressive hardware capabilities, the latest being the Elocity A7 tablet that is already available on pre-order now. “If you want Android market on that platform, the apps just wouldn’t run, [Froyo] is just not designed for that form factor.” This is what he had to say of tablets that lack Android Market support before adding the OS will work well on some devices and won’t on other with it being the manufacturer’s duty to ensure the Froyo works well on the device they come up with.
This also explains the curious scenario of why so many Android tablets that we see popping up almost every other day look like oversized smartphones. The 7 inch GalaxyPad fits the bill perfectly and is truly an oversized version of its Galaxy smartphone while also being able to make and receive phone calls. The Dell Streak too is one more that conforms to this and in spite of having a 5 inch screen, is still marketed as a tablet and more closely resembles a smartphone.
The next versions of Android, that is Gingerbread and Honeycomb and are expected to be more tablet friendly in general. Samsung has already stated the Galaxy Pad can be upgraded to Android 3.0, called Gingerbread, while many tablet makers are awaiting its official release which is expected to happen around Q1 2011.
“Since we emphasized portability and mobility, our determination was to apply smartphone platform instead of tablet platform,” the director of mobile products at Samsung, W.P. Hong said. “Honeycomb will be implemented in our next-generation tablet, not this device, because that [Honeycomb] is specifically optimized for a different type of tablet. This emphasizes mobility.”
Google is saying the Android OS is fit for devices that conform to a minimum hardware specifications which include accelerometer, Wi-Fi and phone capabilities.