Android Honeycomb 3.1

Honey oozing from sticky honeycomb
Honey oozing from sticky honeycomb. Barry Patterson
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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. It was the last update prior to Ice Cream Sandwich update that unified Android tablets and phones. This all seems very obvious now, but in 2011 it was innovative. 

Joysticks, Trackpads, and Dongles, Oh My

Android 3.1 allowed you to enter things with something other than your finger and allowed support for pointing devices and clicking actions instead of just finger dragging and tapping.

As Android tablets started to become popular, game makers might have wanted to add a joysticks and tablet makers might have wanted to extend the netbook idea beyond an optional keyboard. As it turns out, most of these ideas didn't pan out until Android TV. 

Resizable Widgets

Honeycomb added support for resizable widgets. Not all widgets use the feature, but optimized widgets can resize by dragging and take up more or less home screen real estate.    

Android Movie Rentals

The 3.1 update installed a Video app that browsed the Android Market (now Google Play) for video rentals. This was a new service for Android at the time, and you could also plug your Android phone into your TV using an HDMI cable (for supported devices) and watch on the big screen. These days, you'd just use a Chromecast. The Android 3.1 upgrade supported content protection over HDMI, which was an industry requirement before they'd allow movie rentals.

 

Google TV

Google TV got a Honeycomb makeover as well. It improved the interface, but not enough, and the service was eventually killed in favor of Android TV (which is really just a rebranding of the same concept).