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Honeycomb Demoed on Tablet; Coming 2011

Monday during the D: Dive Into Mobile conference, Google's Andy Rubin surprised the audience with a tasty protoype tablet provided by Motorola sporting Android 3.0 aka Honeycomb. Rubin said that the OS is slated for a 2011 release and will support tablets rather than smartphones.

The reveal coincides previous insider talk indicating that Android 2.3 Gingerbread was geared for smartphones while Android 3.0 Honeycomb was specifically designed for larger tablet devices. It also backs up reports that many tablet manufacturers are waiting on Honeycomb's release before bringing their products to the market.

As briefly seen during the presentation, Honeycomb provides a more desktop-like experience, removing the typical Android buttons and offering a sharp, highly customized presentation. As for the hardware performing in the background, very litle is known about the Motorola protoype other than its use of a Nvidia dual-core 3D processor (Tegra 2?) and video chat capabilities. The size of the screen seems to be 7-inches at least, possibly ten.

Unfortunately, what really stole the presentation was a vector-based Google Maps 5.0-- the next version expected to hit smartphones within days. Without getting into the tablet details, Rubin quickly jumped in and showed that users can zoom in on a city block like normal, however the app begins to render the buildings rather than pull up satellite images.

While we're curious to see how this will work on smartphones, the Nvidia processor began to generate shadows as Rubin moved the camera in closer to the ground. At one point, he panned up and the buildings sprouted almost as if he opened up a pop-up book. He could also move about the city skyline without having to wait for the app to load the next "zone," basically allowing a free-roaming experience. Heck, Google Maps 5.0 begs for 3D hardware support.

According to Google, the following current devices will handle most if not all the features provided in the new Google Maps including Galaxy S, DROID, DROID X, DROID 2, DROID Incredible, Evo, Nexus S and G2. And because the app is vector-based, Google Maps 5.0 will require less storage space than caching all those satellite images. The app will supposedly only cache locations that users visit most often, and can even be rerouted to Navigation when there's no connection.

As previously stated, expect the app to arrive within days.