Android Honeycomb 3.1

Android Honeycomb 3.1 was an innovative new Android OS release.

Close-Up Of Dry Honeycomb On Wooden Table

Michele Gazzella / EyeEm/Getty Images 

During Google's May 2011 developer's conference, Google announced that they were rolling out an upgrade to Honeycomb (Android 3.0). This upgrade, Android 3.1, was rolled out to Android tablets and Google TV. Android Honeycomb 3.1 was the last update prior to the Ice Cream Sandwich update that unified Android tablets and phones. 

Honeycomb Supported Input from Joysticks, Trackpads, and Dongles

Android Honeycomb 3.1 made it possible for users to type or tap with something other than a finger. It supported pointing devices and clicking actions beyond basic finger dragging and tapping.

This support for USB peripherals included:

  • Gampads
  • Joysticks
  • Storage devices
  • Musical equipment
  • Exercise equipment

Android tablets were starting to become popular. Game makers wanted to add joystick controls and tablet makers wanted to extend the netbook idea beyond a virtual keyboard.

As it turns out, many devices couldn't support powering USB peripherals right away, and this functionality didn't become a reality until Android TV. 

Many Android OS features are released before devices are able to support it. This was the case in Android Honeycomb 3.1 support of USB devices.

Honeycomb Added Resizable Widgets

Android Honeycomb 3.1 added support for resizable widgets so that users could capitalize on the larger Android smartphone screens coming out on the market.

Not all widgets used the feature, but optimized widgets were resized by dragging to take up more or less home screen real estate.  

Android Honeycomb on-screen keyboard

Honeycomb also introduced a redesigned keyboard tailored for devices with large screens like smartphones and tablets.

Android Honeycomb 3.1 was released at a time when larger device screens were just coming out. So, features designed for larger screens didn't work on all devices.

Honeycomb Played Android Movie Rentals

The Android 3.1 update installed a Video app that browsed the Android Market (now Google Play) for video rentals. To play movies, an Android phone was plugged into a TV using an HDMI cable (for supported devices). These days, Chromecast offers a wireless way to stream content from a phone to a TV.

The Android 3.1 upgrade supported content protection over HDMI, which was an industry requirement before they allowed users to purchase movie rentals. 

Honeycomb Upgraded Google TV

Google TV got a Honeycomb makeover as well. This included an improved interface for Google TV. However, the Google TV service was replaced by Android TV.

Other Android Honeycomb 3.1 Features

Some additional features introduced in Android Honeycomb 3.1 included:

  • Two-pane user interface for the Email and Contacts apps.
  • New gallery app with full-screen mode and photo thumbnails.
  • Browser with tabs, incognito mode, bookmarks, and history.
  • Enhanced multitasking with a Recents app.
  • Up to five customizable home screens for extra app icon space.

All of these features made the Android experience more intuitive, it capitalized on the larger screen space, and created a more flexible environment for Android users.