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!

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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?