Aric Cheston, a creative director with Frog Design, says some changes unveiled by Google do challenge Apple. For example, an upgrade to the Android market makes it possible to browse Android apps using a web browser and with a few clicks have that app it automatically install on their tablet remotely. Honeycomb is also tightly integrated with Google's web services - for example the camera has one-click upload to Youtube.
One major departure is that users can install "widgets" onto their home screen. These widgets provide cut down access to apps and at-a-glance information. For example, a Gmail widget places a small but scrollable in-box onto the desktop. YouTube and news apps such as Pulse use a "stacks" widget, which appears like a stack of cards with the latest information—like a news photo—on the top card. A user can tap on that card to enter the app and see the full content, or flick a finger over the widget to cruise through other information in the stack.
Widgets are considered to be the biggest improvement over the iPad. "With these widgets, the user can interact a lot with their most-used apps without even opening them.
Apps can feature multiple panes, or "fragments", and also support drag-and-drop actions, which makes using them closer to the experience of using a desktop application. Support for apps built using fragments is built into Honeycomb, said Barra. Fragments are self-contained and can be used to build apps for phones and tablets in a modular way, he said, which should speed the creation of apps.
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