Honeycomb’s Strawman


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Honeycomb's Strawman

I’ve noticed a troubling and confusing theme in reviews and comments about Google’s new OS, Honeycomb. It seems everyone thinks it’s great, but there’s an anti-Xoom, anti-Honeycomb meme that keeps appearing about the lack of Honeycomb-specific apps in the Marketplace.

This is what’s called a “Straw man” argument. Rather than argue Honeycomb on its actual merits, pros and cons, they’re trotting out something that sounds awful (Honeycomb has very few apps) and using it as a distraction. Now, I can’t comment too deeply on Honeycomb, but I’ve played around with Android on a tablet with a rooted NOOKcolor, and I can tell you the Android experience on a tablet is NOT limited to a handful of apps.

For starters, almost every one of the 100,000+ apps in the Android marketplace runs perfectly fine at tablet size. This isn’t like the iPad, where many apps ran in a small mode or stretched out mode until they were updated. I have yet to encounter one app under the NOOKcolor’s stock Eclair that doesn’t run in full-screen mode. Everything looks great, even games like Angry Birds. So just because only a handful of apps are labeled for Honeycomb doesn’t mean there are only 16 apps available for the whole tablet!

Second, what apps matter on a tablet? I think it’s safe to say web, mail, Facebook, Twitter, news, eBooks, and games probably dominate the list. Of these, Honeycomb has a great stock browser, a better mail experience, Facebook for Android should look great on it, Twitter should run fine (and Twidroyd looks awesome with its dual pane view), the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and CNN all have apps for tablets, and Google Reader works great as well. Plus Angry Birds, Farm Tower, and all sorts of other games have run perfectly on the NOOKcolor and presumably do on the Xoom as well. Essentially, between the new tablet-ized apps and the existing Android ones, there’s plenty of ways to take advantage of an Android tablet, so complaining about the 16 labeled “tablet” is more than a bit misleading.

Finally, imagine the internet outcry if a huge swath of apps were Honeycomb-only. The websites promoting “Android OS Fragmentation” charts would collapse under the strain of it all! It would be a fragmentation apocalypse!

Admittedly I’m a big Android fan. I take it to be a positive sign that the biggest knock anyone can make against the Xoom and Honeycomb is this strawman approach, then that speaks volumes. But it’s a frustrating criticism since it’s so vague, and it undercuts the overwhelming number of apps already in the Android market ready to go!

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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

5 Comments on "Honeycomb’s Strawman"

  1. Francis Scardino | February 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    Amen Carly. Most reviews are dismal at best and all have this common “negative” theme you speak of. Hopefully we can get our hands on a Xoom here and actually review it instead of like most others just post what it is not and what apps are not available. All in due time I say, the first “tabley only” OS needs a little room to breathe while app developers get cracking on specific Honeycomb apps. As you said most apps run great on it anyway with some having minor scaling issues. Let’s remember how kick ass the hardware is before we start grillin the marketplace issues. It’s been a whole week since out on the market.

  2. Well put Carly! A number of these “opinion pieces” start looking an awful lot like linkbate when you step back and think about them. Seriously, I have no issue with calling a company or a product out when there is a real issue but when it really is a non-issue there is more than a little lost credibility.

    At this point almost all of my central iOS apps are avaiable on Android (which is making the draw of the OS greater than ever) and I have no doubt specially designed Honeycomb tablet apps will flow in shortly.

    Hell, I recall complaining how few truly native iPad apps there were in the first few months. Now look at things.

  3. RT @GearDiarySite: Honeycomb’s Strawman http://goo.gl/fb/BxPEB

  4. Daniel McNutt | February 27, 2011 at 11:21 pm |

    I think it’s an unfair argument too. But I also think the crux of reviews should focus on how this android tablet stacks up against other android tablets instead of the year old iPad. Let’s compare Apples to er apples and android to android 🙂

  5. While your point is well taken about Honeycomb and the Motorola Xoom, my problems with that combination of hardware/software lies not with the Applications specific to Honeycomb but rather the OS itself.

    The Zoom is like a technofetishist’s wish list on the hardware side. There is no reason it should not run smoothly and with few glitches. However, when I strolled into my local Verizon store to check out the Xoom, the only thing that I could think was how disappointed I was in the OS itself. There were some glitches, particularly with the keyboard, and the whole device did not feel as fast as I would have hoped. The annoying pauses and stuttering that occurs with 2.2 were still there, albeit in new and exciting ways. I was struggling to swipe from screen to screen smoothly. The soft buttons sometimes required 2-3 presses to register.

    Before everyone jumps all over me for making the above remarks, I am completely aware of the fact that I was playing with a store demo that likely had 100 open apps, etc. etc. Still, to ask me to dump $800 on a product that doesn’t WOW me straight out of the gate is asking a bit much, IMO. Particularly when iPad 2.0 is staring me straight in the face from a few days away.

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