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Google Gives Developers A Closer Look At Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS

CNN, Disney and others show new tablet apps that will use version 3.0 -- Android Market Webstore live now.

Developers got their long-awaited deep look into the featureset of Android 3.0, the tablet-targeted version of the OS code-named "Honeycomb."

Andy Rubin took the stage at precisely 10 a.m. PT today, exhorting reporters gathered here to "please mention the people in building 44," where Android operating system work is taking place.

Contrary to industry hype and reporter expectation, there were few surprises at this event. Google execs openly used the as yet unreleased Motorola Xoom tablet for all their demos, but Motorola did not announce a Honeycomb tablet, nor did other tablet vendors.

Google spent its time at the two-hour event demonstrating a new tablet-optimized version of the Android OS, which it claimed is faster, more modular and more easily allows developers to release iterations on.

"With Honeycomb, we're enabling this style of rapid agile development ... on this new generation of tablet-sized mobile computers," said Hugo Barra, a Google product manager director for Android.

Tablet-optimized features, he said, will include improved graphics 2D and 3D performance. He produced demonstrations to this effect.

"We've spent a tremendous amount of time optimizing performance in Honeycomb -- especially for 2D and 3D graphics. Developers can accelerate literally by adding a line of code,: said Barra, who also took the opportunity to officially announce the rumored Renderscript graphics engine and show live 3D chat.

Musician Cee-Lo showed up for a brief video chat using the platform.

Representatives from CNN, Disney, game maker War Drum and a few other companies showed games and apps they said would take advantage of the Honeycomb tablet-specific feature set.

Performance and agile design were the underlying themes. "We spent as much time as we could optimizing performance at every level," Barra added, "Take maps as an example. We're adding dynamic (rendering of 3D graphics)." Barra showed a rapidly changing view of San Francisco's Embarcadero on Google Maps from various angles.

Chris Yerga, the new Google engineer recently hired away from Microsoft, took the stage to show a web-based version of the Android Market Webstore. It is live now.

Yerga emphasized that the Market blurs the line between web and tablet -- everything is on the cloud, he said.

Despite the absence of expected tablet announcements, Google's live stream of the event had developers on Twitter humming with comparisons to Apple's iOS.

Watch this spot next week when, at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress, our editors scour for announcements relating to these new developments.

For TechWeb, InformationWeek and the upcoming, I'm Gina Smith.

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