Home Poll: Honeycomb – Better to Fork or Merge?

Poll: Honeycomb – Better to Fork or Merge?

At this week’s press event at Google headquarters, Google Director of Products for Mobile Hugo Barra told journalists that the newest version of the Android mobile operating system, version 3.0, also known as “Honeycomb” is designed for tablets, and just tablets. At least, for now. He said the company is considering what features should make their way over from Honeycomb to the smartphone OS, Android 2.3 aka “Gingerbread.”

“We will take some of the innovations from Honeycomb and think about how they apply to phones,” he said. But later, company spokesman Andrew Kovacs commented to PCMag.com via email that “all of the UI changes are the future of Android” (emphasis ours).

We’re a little confused, and it seems like Google might be too. But from what it sounds like, Honeycomb will sort of merge with Gingerbread, and not fork into a separate OS, as had been expected. Is that the right way for Google to go? Tell us what you think in this week’s ReadWriteMobile poll.

No Forking Here?

According to Kovacs’ email, the version of Honeycomb Google introduced this week is “optimized for tablet form factors…which is where you’ll first see Honeycomb.”


Well, that makes sense – there are certain developments that could certainly make their way from Honeycomb to the smartphone, it seems. For example, the video chat capabilities in Google Talk, the drag-and-drop feature in Gmail, the 3D widgets, the video-editing app called Movie Studio, and more.

Already, one of Honeycomb’s newest features called Fragments, which allows for a multi-pane UI, has been designed to be modular so that developers can write apps for any screen size.  And when our own Mike Melanson caught up with Barra at the event, Barra explained that Google will provide developers and designers with tools so they can create apps on Honeycomb that will work both on smartphones and tablets. There are “no compatibility issues that you could point to today,” said Barra.

No Wait, Honeycomb for Phones is a “Maybe”

That’s all well and good, except for one thing: Barra also said that bringing Honeycomb features to smartphones is just a maybe, not, as Kovacs said, “the future of Android.” In a story from The Register, Barra stated that Honeycomb was for “large-screen tablet-sized devices,” but when pressed for details on phone support said, “we don’t know. That’s a conversation we’re having right now.”

Wait, what?

It sounds like Google rolled out the Honeycomb OS, without understanding which, if any, of its features will flow from tablets to phones.

Such is the pace of innovation?

Poll: Should Google Fork Android?

The question now is, should Google go ahead and officially fork Android into two separate OS’s? Or should it continue on the same path it is now, where the two variations exist separately but with some feature crossover expected in the future? Or maybe Google should just abandon its former UI and attempt to make the Honeycomb UI the face of Android, as best it can, for any sized device?

What do you think? Tell us in this week’s poll.

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The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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