Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Android Operating Systems Software

Why Are There So Few Honeycomb Apps? 432

Fudge Factor 3000 writes "PC World's Brent Rose investigates the reason behind the dearth of Honeycomb apps even though the OS was released in February with the release of the Xoom. One would have expected an explosion of Android tablet apps like that seen with the iPad but the Honeycomb-optimized apps remain in the low hundreds. The answer, it turns out, is not that simple. The main contributing factors appear to be the low demand for Honeycomb tablets and the difficulty in discovering Honeycomb-optimized apps in the Market. Hopefully, this will be rectified in the near future."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Are There So Few Honeycomb Apps?

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Rampant piracy... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @03:02AM (#36650530)

    Platform fragmentation - as in, different screen sizes etc., may be an issue but I don't know how bad it really is.

    I'm developing an Android app; doing it exclusively on my own device; have tried the emulator but it is so slow! Takes some 10-15 minutes just to start up, and then literally minutes to start running my app after starting it out of Eclipse. Not to mention the sluggish performance in the emulator. Searching for solutions to this problem only resulted in many hits of people with the same problem.

    So while I'd love to at least test my app on the "big screen", or even smaller screens for that sake (my device is double the minimum required), the shitty emulator makes it impossible.

    This I can imagine will hold back many developers to optimise their app for the tablets, as it'd require them to buy the device. And if only that emulator would work properly I'd prefer to use it instead of my device, easier!

  • Re:Rampant piracy... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SlightOverdose ( 689181 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @03:09AM (#36650552)

    Emulator Performance is the big problem. I've tried to develop a HoneyComb app, but the emulator is so slow it's absolutely unusable. Until that's fixed, developers are far less likely to flock to the new version.

  • by c.r.o.c.o ( 123083 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @03:39AM (#36650630)

    I posted almost 6 months ago complaining about searching in the market app. In the meantime, none of my complaints have been addressed. Given that Google is still primarily a search engine with a bunch of OSs, browsers, apps and features designed to steer people towards their search engine, I would have expected them to implement a better Market app. []

    My final point still stands. Google does not want users to be able to easily differentiate between poor apps and high quality apps since they still won't allow you to sort results by number of downloads, rating, and a few other criteria I can think of. In the case of honeycomb I guess it's working against them.

  • No need (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 04, 2011 @03:44AM (#36650638)

    Android has been written from the ground up to support different resolutions / dpi. There is no need to write "honeycomb" specific UIs, because well written apps would have already moved things around for a higher resolution, lower DPI screen. Honeycomb brought "fragments" (reusable parts of the UI) to make it easier for developers to switch between screen types, and "Renderscript" (easier to make fancy looking UI)

    Most of the apps that I use on my phone work well on a 10" screen, and some even reformat themselves (adding a side bar with commonly used controls, etc.). There are a few crappy apps that decide to use fixed pixel coordinates so they don't work (they are either uninstalled, or I email the dev about it and they fix it).

    Factoring the above in: why would you reprogram to use HC when your app is already doing the same thing? That's why most of the HC apps are *NEW* apps taking advantage of fragments, etc., and not ones that have been scrapped and redesigned for HC. If you use HC features, you need to use reflection / second code path for Gingerbread / non-tablet devices support -- adding extra work.

    Apps for the i-series devices had NO provision for higher resolution displays (most were using 320x480 or whatever the original res is), and therefore must have applications rewritten to take advantage of higher resolutions (blowing up 320x480 @ 3.5" to 1024x768 @ 10" = blur city. 800x480+ @ 4" to 10" is ok). Your options as a dev were either: your app looks like garbage (and therefore lower ratings), or your rewrite it (and count towards the "number of tablet apps").

    TL;DR: Good Android apps already support higher res / lower DPI tablets without needing to depend on Honeycomb specific features. As such, it doesn't count towards "honeycomb apps".

  • by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @03:53AM (#36650658)

    The Honeycomb tablets currently in the market are expensive, many even more expensive than an iPad and yet less polished.

    Trying to break into a market against a well-established player, when your product is more expensive, has less marketing and is lower in quality isn't going to work

    I myself have some really nice ideas for Honeycomb, tablet optimized apps but am holding off from developing them until the platform gets some traction.

    It might very well be that Honeycomb is this beautiful, hard-working, honey-making bee of the mobile OS world, but if hardware makers persist in sticking it on top of turds and hopping it sells, Apple is going to dominate the tablet market for the next 20 years.

  • Re:Rampant piracy... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ogi_UnixNut ( 916982 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @04:32AM (#36650774) Homepage

    Um, unless I'm misunderstanding you (i.e. the emulator actually executes native code, although then it's not really an emulator), this should be obvious. The emulator emulates a different instruction set (arm) on your PC (x86). Virtualisation has nothing to do with that, as that executes native code for the processor on the processor itself. As no instruction translation and emulation is needed, a virtualised OS will run much much faster (assuming no IO/mem bottlenecks, it should run as fast as the host OS).

    You have a 1.8GHz x86 processor, well I can tell you that it's highly unlikely to be able to run at anywhere near 600MHz arm speed. If you're lucky it will emulate about 200Mhz arm. Emulation is hard to do, and it's no surprise that it's that slow.

    Emulation != Virtualisation. They are very very different beasts. You can't say "Or, my machine can run X on virtualbox really fast, so I should be able to emulate a totally different processor just as fast". Different systems entirely.

  • Re:seems simple (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LenE ( 29922 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @04:42AM (#36650790) Homepage

    I'm curious to get the input from you or someone else that has done the necessary research on Android tablets as to which the "best one" is supposed to be.

    The best one is the one that does the most things you would like to do, in a stable manner.

    Right now, for most people, that would be the iPad. Apple has their shit together, and that just cannot be said of ANY Android tablet maker or even Google, at this point in time. They just passed something like 100,000 iPad-specific Apps in their store. I have friends who are anti-establishment types (big Android fans), who have published an iPad app, and won't even consider producing an Android version. As new developers, they want to be paid, and pragmatism is a very good idea.

    Sorry, but until Google steps up and blesses a reference standard like a Nexus Tab or something, the Android tablet market won't have any "best" tablet. Until Google steps up with a real tablet SDK and a good emulator, the hurried and shoddy Android tablets will always take a back seat to the iPad.

    On a side note, the history of Android and iOS devices should be considered when looking at this market disparity. Apple started with the tablet first, and shrunk it down into a phone. Sure, the iPhone preceded the iPad to market by three years, but the tablet touch interface was being developed for the better part of a decade before it was shrunk down for the phone. In both iPad and iPhone/iPod renditions, the devices were clean-sheet from the ground up. Apple got it right on the tablet, and then worked to get it right on the phone. The delay in releasing the iPad was most-likely due to needing the silicon to catch-up, so that the user experience wouldn't suck. Apple has fast emulators for both the iPad and the iPhone, and targeting either device with a common codebase is very easy.

    Android, on the other hand, started out using the Microsoft Windows Mobile reference platform for hardware. The initial designs (pre-iPhone) looked much closer to Blackberries, than the now-omnipresent iPhone/Touch form factor. The first Androids were hobbled by their MS-designed roots with goofy memory management, and all Android manufacturers are still paying Microsoft for the privilege of using their crappy design. Android tablets grew out of this, with the added technical problem that any manufacturer could do whatever the hell they wanted to do. Until Honeycomb, all Android tablets used ugly (fragile) hacks to scale up phone interfaces. From Google's own admission, they did the same for Honeycomb, and won't be releasing the source because of it. Hopefully, they will eventually get it right.

    -- Len

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @05:37AM (#36650982) Journal

    Take it from someone who owned two Honeycomb tablets (Xoom and Transformer), and now also an iPad 2: Honeycomb is unstable and buggy. Force closes are the norm. Music app crashes when playing any MP3 from one of the albums that I have. The whole thing is pretty slow - even swiping screens with icons left and right is slow, especially if you rotate the tablet from its "normal" orientation (landscape, camera near the top). On some websites - most notably, Slashdot when posting a comment - it's so horrendously slow as to be unusable, which is why I had to resort to Opera Mobile specifically for the sake of those websites; but it has its own problems.

    In comparison, iPad is pretty limited in what it can do, but in practice I've found that 90% of the time I spend in the browser anyway, and the remaining is split between mail, games and books, all of which are available on both platforms (and good games in particular are more abundant on iPad - it has Civilization, a StarCraft clone, several good shooters etc). And on iPad, these all are silky smooth, so it ends up being the tablet of choice. That, and its battery life - it's 1 hour more even as far as specs go, but both Honeycomb tablets - and particularly Transformer - seem to leak it faster when sleeping.

    That said, I'm still keeping Transformer around, hoping for one of the two things: either Google fixes responsiveness and stability issues in Ice Cream Sandwich (earlier I was hoping for 3.1, but it turned out to be a meh kind of update), or else we finally get a full-fledged Linux distro that can be installed on the thing - and then I'll get a nifty Linux tablet/netbook with loads of battery time (thanks to the keyboard dock). My overall feeling is that the latter is more likely at this moment...

  • by Gator ( 16820 ) on Monday July 04, 2011 @08:37AM (#36651526)

    I second this post. I can't say enough good things about the ASUS Transformer. The tablet rocks especially when you consider how much cheaper and open than the iPad it is. Not many people are talking about it here, I guess its still a secret with not as much publicity as the Zoom.

    The Android OS right now is pretty close to iOS. Its a little less polished, and does suffer from the occasional bug, but for the price you're gaining flexibility.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard