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Gina Smith
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Google Opens the Kimono on Android 3.0 OS

Press to get a deep look at Honeycomb at Google's headquarters in Silicon Valley at 9:45 a.m. PT

Google's new-again CEO Larry Page will lead press and analysts into their first deep look at Android 3.0 today.

InformationWeek's Tom Claburn will be there, and so will Fritz Nelson and I. We'll be tweeting, shooting video and writing analysis for, TechWeb and InformationWeek throughout the day.

What will we see? I expect OS designer Matias Duarte to get up there with Page. His design chops are legendary. I expect lots of demos. They'll demo live video conferencing, probably on a Motorola Xoom, perhaps on next gen tablets to come from Samsung and others. One can only hope they'll show that the annoying home button/back button Android tabs have will now be on-screen in the newer Android-based tablets.

They'll show that, at long last, the OS is designed for tablets, so Samsung Galaxy users like me will have a better, tablet-ready experience; one that is faster and that survives multiple touches. They'll give BYTE's honorary tablet beat reporter, Nelson (by day, he's InformationWeek's editorial director), something to sink his teeth into.

Google has been saying for awhile that Android 3.0 will be its biggest, most significant update. (Does anyone remember the move from Windows 2.11 to 3.0 -- quickly followed by a bug fix?) Ideally, they'll have a solid platform out the gate.

Apple will for the first time be in an unusual position after today. Especially now that Android just vaulted past Symbian to take over the top spot in global smartphone sales. Symbian was at the top of the heap for 10 years. Already smarting from that damage, and after owning the tablet market since jumpstarting it with the iPad, Apple will now have armies of Android tablets equipped with more tablet-ready OS features (as opposed to just smartphone features) rolling right at it. The smaller Galaxy Tab -- which will likely feature Android 3.0 in a new rendition come Barcelona's Mobile World Congress show -- is starting to grow on me. Whether it becomes a major iPad competitor (not killer) in the coming months is in Samsung's hands.

Giving tablet makers the tools to make better Android tablets is squarely on Google, though in the end it's up to the tablet makers to deliver decent goods. (This reminds me of the old MS DOS/Windows plus OEM strategy that differentiated computer makers on things like motherboard thickness, graphics cards and peripherals. And price).

More Samsung buyers return Galaxy Tabs than iPads for a lot of reasons, analysts say. I'm guessing the current Android 2.2 version of the OS is the main one.

Any way you look at it, this announcement this morning (Pacific Time) is going to be the opening shot in one of the most fierce industry battles ever, and I've seen a few.

We'll be there, with Twitter updates all day at, @ginasmith888 and, of course, this space at InformationWeek until the new launches. For BYTE, I'm Gina Smith.

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