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4/28/2011
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Motorola Xoom To Get Software Update

Verizon Wireless has begun revealing details of the first major software update for Android 3.0 Honeycomb running on the Motorola Xoom tablet.

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Motorola and partner Verizon Wireless are putting the final touches on a significant system update for the Motorola Xoom. Though the companies haven't officially announced when it will be released, the changelog is live on Verizon's support site. If you're hoping for a major feature upgrade, don't get your hopes up. This new software aims at fixing a lot of bugs and tying off a few loose ends.

Enterprise IT departments will be happy to see some of the changes being applied to the Xoom's Web browsing and data access capabilities. Some of the improvements include added proxy support when connecting to Wi-Fi networks; support for SSL data transfers; support for WPA pre-shared key pass-phrases when using the device as a mobile hotspot; and support for Google's Widevine DRM and HDCP. These will all contribute to making the Xoom a bit more secure for enterprise use.

In the communications department, the update will allow POP3 HTML emails to display in their entirety, and users can now take advantage of Bluetooth headsets when chatting via Google Talk. The Xoom still can't (and probably won't ever) make voice calls via Verizon's cellular network.

A number of other, minor fixes are included in the update. Users will be able to enter encrypted passwords during power up. The Xoom won't be so pesky about application storage errors, and will only alert users when the device's local storage is absolutely full. The Xoom will support Bluetooth mice, and a new shortcut key for the Bluetooth keyboard will be added. Last, users will be able to view and import pictures directly from attached digital cameras. (That last one could be quite handy for field workers.)

What doesn't the system update offer? LTE, for one. LTE requires new hardware, and Verizon hasn't yet announced when the LTE modem will be ready for the Xoom. (Remember that the LTE update will require users to hand their Xooms over to Verizon Wireless for up to a week.)

It also doesn't bring any sweeping changes to the user interface or base Android 3.0 Honeycomb software. Surprisingly, none of the language in the changelog says anything about improved system performance. The Xoom, while powered by a dual-core Tegra2 processor, still feels sluggish. Those hoping for a boost in performance may be left wanting.

Google has yet to announce any new features for Honeycomb, which was first announced in December 2010. In fact, Google has said little about Honeycomb other than that the source code isn't yet finished. When it does finish the Honeycomb source code, hopefully Google will offer insight about planned new features for its tablet OS.

With Google's I/O developer conference scheduled to kick off in less than two weeks, we won't have to wait long for news of Honeycomb's future.

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