Difference Between Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) for Tablet

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) vs Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) | Android 2.3 vs 3.0 | Android 2.3.3 vs 3.0 Performance and Features | Android 2.3.4 vs 3.0 updated | 2.3.4 vs Android 3.1 updated.

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) are two of the latest Android mobile operating system from Google Android. Android 3.0, code named as ‘Honeycomb’ is a platform for large screen devices like tablets. It was released in January 2011. The first update to Honeycomb was released on 10 May 2011. The new release is Android 3.1, which is a major release. While Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) is another amazing technology from Google that was released in December 2010. Gingerbread supports both tablet and smartphone, though it is not optimized for large screen devices. With the release of Android 2.3 Google introduced Nexus S, a pure Google smartphone powered by Gingerbread. The device was co-developed by Google and Samsung to give the full experience of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). Gingerbread had 4 updates, the latest update is Android 2.3.4 released in May 2011.

Update: The last version of Gingerbread is Android 2.3.4 and the last version of Honeycomb is Android 3.1 (see Table_02 for additional features)

Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)

Honeycomb is the first Android platform entirely designed for devices with large screens such as tablets and it is the first version of the platform designed to support symmetric multi processing in a multi core environment. Honeycomb took the advantage of the larger real estate in mind and designed the UI, the new UI looks awesome. Android 3.0 offers 5 home screens that can be customized and scrollable, and offers new wall papers. The widgets are redesigned to enhance the appearance on a large screen. The key board also redesigned with keys reshaped and repositioned and new keys are added. With Honeycomb, the tablets do not need physical buttons; the soft buttons appear on the bottom of the screen regardless of which way you orient the device.

The other new features in Honeycomb include 3D transition, bookmark syncing, private browsing, pinned widgets – create your own widget for individuals in the contact list, video chat using Google Talk and auto-form fill. It has integrated the redesigned YouTube for 3D, tablet optimized eBooks, Google Map 5.0 with 3D interaction, wallpapers and many of the updated Android phone applications.

Android fully optimized the large screen to provide smooth multitasking experience with multiple user panels that appear side by side. The redesigned Gmail displays the folders, contacts and messages side by side in columns. Also with the new Gmail application, you can open more messages from the inbox in new panes while keeping you active view intact on the screen. The new panes will appear side by side.

With the improved web browser, surfing the net is amazing, it gives a full web browsing experience with the support of Adobe Flash Player 10.2. Honeycomb also has incorporated all Google apps such as Gmail, Google Calender, Google talk, Google Search, Google maps and of course a redesigned YouTube. In additon it has integrated ebooks. Google proudly boasts that it has millions of books to go with Google ebooks, currently it’s having 3 million ebooks. The eBook widget on the home screen gives you access to scroll through the list of bookmarks.

The other features that you will be bewildered with Honeycomb tablets are the face to face chat with millions of Google talk users and the 3D effect in Google Map 5.0.

Google introduced Honeycomb with Motorola Xoom, a 10.1″ tablet with dual core processor from Motorola.

However, as a very new design, different from its previous OS for smartphones, it had some flaws. The latest update Android 3.1 is a major release issued to address the flaws experienced by Xoom users.

Android 3.1 (Honeycomb)

Android 3.1 is the first major release to Honeycomb, this is an add on to the Android 3.0 features and the UI. It enhances the capabilities of the OS for both users as well as the developers. With the update, the UI is refined to make it more intuitive and efficient. Navigation between the five home screens is made easy, a touch of the home button in system bar will take you to frequently used homes screen. The home screen widget can be customized to add more information. And the recent apps list is expanded to more number of applications. The update also supports more varieties of input devices and USB connected accessories.

In addition to these new features, some of the standard applications are improved in order to optimize the larger screen. The improved applications are Browser, Gallery, Calendar and Enterprise Support. The improved browser supports CSS 3D, animations and CSS fixed positioning, embedded playback of HTML5 video content and plugins that use hardware accelerated tendering. Web pages can now be saved locally for offline viewing with all styling and imaging. Page Zoom performance also improved, giving a better browsing experience.

Android 3.0 Preview

HoneyComb Event Video

Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)

API Level 11

Table_01: Android 3.0 Features

New User Features

1. New UI – holographic UI newly designed for large screen displays with content focused interaction, the UI is backward compatible, applications designed for earlier versions can be used with new UI.

2. Refined multitasking

3. Rich notification, no more popups

4. System bar at the bottom of the screen for system status, notification and it accomodates navigation buttons, as like in Google Chrome.

5. Customizable homescreen (5 homescreens) and dynamic widgets for 3D experience

6. Action bar for application control for all applications

7. Redesigned keyboard for larger screen, keys are reshaped and repositioned and new keys added such as Tab key. button in system bar to switch between text/voice input mode

8. Improvement to text selection, copy and paste; very close to what we do in computer.

9. Buil in support for Media/Picture Transfer Protocol – you can instantly sync media files through USB cable.

10. Connect full keyboard over USB or Bluetooth

11. Improved Wi-Fi connectivity

12. New support for Bluetooth tethering – you can connect more types of devices

13. Improved browser for efficient browsing and better browsing experience using the large screen – some of the new features are:

- multiple tabbed browsing instead of windows,

- incognito mode for anonymous browsing.

- single unified view for Bookmarks and History.

- multi-touch support to JavaScript and plugins

- improved zoom and viewport model, overflow scrolling, support for fixed positioning

14. Redesigned camera application for larger screen

- quick access to exposure, focus, flash, zoom, etc.

- built-in support for time- lapse video recording

- gallery application for full screen mode viewing and easy access to thumbnails

15. Redesigned contacts applications features for larger screen

- new two-pane UI for contacts applications

- improved formatting for international phone numbers based on home country

- contact information view in card like format for easy reading and editing

16. Redesigned Email appliations

- two-pane UI for viewing and organizing mails

- sync mail attachments for later viewing

- track emails using email widgets in the homescreen


New Developer Features

1. New UI Framework – to fragment and combine activities in different ways to create richer and more interactive applications

2. Redesigned UI Widgets for larger screen and new holographic UI theme

- developers can quickly add new types of content to relevant applications and can interact with users in new ways

- new types of widgets included such as 3D stack, search box, date/time picker, number picker, calendar, popup menu

3. Action Bar at the top of the screen can be customized by developers according to application

4. A new builder class to create notifications that include large and small icons, title, a priority flag, and any properties already available in previous versions

5. Developers can use mulitiselect, clipboard and drag and drop features to offer users more enjoyable gaming experience

6. Performance improvement to 2D and 3D graphics

- new animation framework

- new hardware accelerated OpenGL renderer to improve the performance of 2D graphics based applications

- Renderscript 3D graphics engine for accelerated graphics operations and create high performance 3D effects in applications.

7. Support for multicore processor architectures – support symmetric mulitprocessing in multicore environments, even an application designed for single core environment will enjoy the performance boost.

8. HTTP Live streaming – media framwork supports most of the HTTP Live streaming specification.

9. Pluggable DRM framework – for applications to manage protected content, Android 3.0 offers unified API for simplified management of protected contents.

10. Built-in support for MTP/PTP over USB

11. API support for Bluetooth A2DP and HSP profiles

For Enterprises

Device administration applications can include new types of policies, such as policies for encrypted storage, password expiration, password history, and requirement of complex characters for passwords.

Android 3.1 additional features and improvements to UI and  standard applications in Android 3.0

Android 3.1 (Honeycomb)

API Level: 12

Release: 10 May 2011

Table_02: Android 3.1 New Features and Improvements

New Features

1. Refined UI

- Launcher animation optimized for faster, smoother transition to/from app list

- Adjustments in color, positioning and text

- Audible feedback for improved accessibility

- Customizable touch-hold interval

- Navigation to/from five home screens made easy. Touching the home button in system bar will return you to most frequently used home screen.

- Improved view of internal storage used by apps

2. Support for more varieties of input devices such as keyboards, mouse, trackballs, game controllers and accessories such as digital cameras musical instrument, kiosks and card readers.

- Any type of external keyboards, mouse and trackballs can be connected

- Most of the PC joysticks, game controllers and game pads can be connected except for some proprietary controllers

- More than one device can be attached simultaneously via USB and/or Blutooth HID

- No configuration or drivers required

- Support for USB accessories as host to launch related applications, if application not available the accessories can give the URL to  download the application.

- Users can interact with application to control the accessories.

3. Recent Apps list is expandable to include larger number of apps. The list will have all the apps in use and recently used apps.

4. Customizable Home screen

- Re-sizable home screen widgets. widgets can be expanded in both vertically and horizontally.

- Updated home screen widget for Email app gives quick access to emails

5. New high performance Wi-Fi lock added for uninterrupted connectivity even when the device screen is off. This will be useful for streaming long duration music, video and voice services.

- HTTP proxy for each individual Wi-Fi access point can be configured. This will be used by the browser when communicating with the networks. Other Apps also may use this.

- Configuration is made easy by touch-hold of the access point in the setting

- Back up and restore the user defined IP and proxy setting

- Support for Preferred Network Offload (PNO), which works in the background and conserves battery power in case where Wi-Fi connectivity needed  for longer time.

Improvements to Standard Applications

6. Improved Browser app – new features added and UI improved

- Quick Controls UI is extended and redesigned. Users can use it to view thumbnails of open tabs, to close the active tabs, access overflow menu for instant access to settings and many other.

- Supports CSS 3D, animations, and CSS fixed positioning to all sites.

- Supports embedded playback of HTML5 video content

- Save the webpage locally for offline viewing with all styling and imaging

- Improved auto login UI let users quickly sign in to Google sites and manage access when multiple users sharing the same device

- Support for plugins that use hardware accelerated rendering

- Page Zoom performance improved

7. Gallery apps improved to support Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP).

- Users can connect external cameras over USB and import pictures to Gallery with one touch

- The imported pictures are copied to local storages and it will show the balance space available.

8. Calender grids are made larger for better readability and accurate targeting

- Controls in data picker are redesigned

- Calender list controls can be hidden to create larger viewing area for grids

9. Contacts app allows full text search making it quicker to locate contacts and the results are shown from all the fields stored in the contact.

10. Email app improved

- When replying or forwarding HTML message the improved Email app sends both plain text and HTML bodies as multi-part mime message.

- Folder prefixes for IMAP accounts are made easier to define and manage

- Prefetches emails from server only when the device is connected to a Wi-Fi access point. This is done to conserve battery power and minimize data usage

- Improved home screen widget gives quick access to emails and users can cycle through email labels with the touch of the Email icon at the top of the widget

11. Improved Enterprise support

- Administrators can use the configurable HTTP proxy for each Wi-Fi access point

- Allows encrypted storage card device policy with emulated storage cards and encrypted primary storage

Compatible Devices:

Android Honeycomb Tablets, Google TV

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

Android 2.3, the Gingerbread was released in December 2010. Android 2.3 version release includes a lot of improvements to the standard features in Android 2.2 (Froyo) and incorporated many new features.

The new features of Gingerbread are the new UI themes, redesigned keyboards, new copy and paste functionality, improved power management, better application management, new download manager, NFC (Near Field Communication), support for VoIP/SIP calls, new Camera application for accessing multiple cameras and supports extra large screens.


Android 2.3(Gingerbread), supports Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi hotspot functionality can connect 6 devices. In the sense, you can use Android 2.3 phone as a wireless broadband router. It also supports for NFC (Near Field Communication) which is a high speed data communication mechanism operates in high frequency within a short range (10 cm).


In addition to standard voice calling, Android 2.3 supports for SIP audio and video calling. If you have a good 3G or Wi-Fi connection and a SIP account you can make internet calling. It breaks the boundary of regionalist concept and flies in the global domain.

Power Management:

Power Management is one the critical tasks in these kind of Mobile operating systems. Even if you have all these fancy features, if the battery life of the device is couple of hours, then there is no use in the added features. Android 2.3 handles it in a better way than earlier versions. Here in 2.3 the OS manages the applications and daemon application which are running at the background and closes the unnecessary applications.

There were four updates issued so far to Android 2.3; the first two were  small OTA updates. Android 2.3.1 included Google Map 5.0 and bug fixes, 2.3.2 update issued to fix a major bug in the SMS application.

Android 2.3.3

Android 2.3.3 is a small update to Android 2.3, few features and APIs are added to Android 2.3. (API stands for Application Program Interface). The notable upgrade is the improvement for NFC, now applications can interact with more types of tags. NFC communication relies on wireless technology in the device hardware, and is not present in all Android devices. Improvement is made to API for developers to request filtering on Android Market, so that their applications are not discoverable to users whose devices do not support NFC.

There are some improvements on Bluetooth as well for non-secure socket connections. There are some more changes for developers in graphics, media and speech. The Android 2.3.3 API is identified as 10.

Android 2.3.4

Android 2.3.4, the latest over the air Android version update to Gingerbread brings an exciting new feature to Android based devices. With the upgrade to Android 2.3.4 you can video or voice chat using Google Talk. Once updated you will notice a voice/video chat button next to your contact in Google Talk contact list. With one touch you can send an invitation to start a voice/video chat. You can make video calls via 3G/4G network or via Wi-Fi. The Android 2.3.4 update in addition to this new feature also include some bug fixes.

The update was initially issued to Nexus S phones and will be launched to other Android 2.3.x devices at a later date.

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) supports following features:

Generic Features (Common for Android 2.2 as well)

Advanced Microsoft Exchange support

Integration of Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine into the Browser application

Wi-Fi hotspot functionality

Voice dialling and contact sharing over Bluetooth

Support for file upload fields in the Browser application

Animated GIFs supported in browser.

Adobe Flash 10.1 supported

Support for extra high DPI screens

Additional Features of Android 2.3

New user interface design with new themes (Black themes save power)

Extra Large Screen Size supported

SIP Communication Supported (SIP Video and Audio Calling)*

Supports for NFC (High Frequency High Speech Data Transfer in short range)

Support for WebM/VP8 video playback, and AAC audio encoding

New audio effects such as reverb, equalization, headphone virtualization, and bass boost

Improved Copy and Paste functionality

Redesigned Multi Touch Software Keyboard

Audio, graphical, and input enhancements for game developers

New sensors support (i.e gyroscope)

Download manager for long running HTTP downloads

Enhanced support for native code

Improved power management and application control

Support for multiple cameras

* In operator point of view, SIP Communication support feature will decrease their voice calling revenue where as user can call each other for lower rates or even free if they have good data connection.

The Nexus S is the newest smartphone introduced by Google in December 2010 which was powered by Gingerbread. The device was co-developed by Google and Samsung to run Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).

Android 2.3 Official Video

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

API Level 9

Table_03: Android 2.3 Features


User Features:

1. New user interface has a simple and attractive theme in black background, which is designed to give a vivid look while being power efficient too. Menu and settings are changed for ease of navigation.

2. Redesigned soft keyboard is optimized for quicker and accurate text input and editing. And the word being edited and dictionary suggestion is vivid and easy to read.

3. Multi touch key cording to input number and symbols without changing input mode

4. Selection of word and copy/paste made easy.

5. Improved power management through application control.

6. Provide user awareness on power consumption. Users can view how the battery is used and which consume more.

7. Internet calling – supports SIP calls to other users with SIP account

8. Support Near-field communication (NFC) – high frequency high speech data transfer within a short range (10 cm). This will be useful feature in m commerce.

9. A new download manager facility that supports easy storage and retrieval of downloads

10. Support for multiple cameras



For Developers

1. Concurrent garbage collector to minimize application pauses and support increased responsiveness game like applications.

2. Touch and keyboard events handled better which minimizes the CPU utilization and Improve responsiveness, this feature is beneficial for 3D games and CPU intensive applications.

3. Use updated third party video drivers for faster 3D graphic performance

4. Native input and sensor events

5. New sensors including gyroscope is added for improved 3D motion processing

6. Provide Open API for audio controls and effects from native code.

7. Interface to manage graphic context.

8. Native access to activity lifecycle and window management.

9. Native access to assets and storage

10. Android NDk provide robust native development environment.

11. Near Field Communication

12. SIP based internet calling

13. New audio effects API to create rich audio environment by adding reverb, equalization, headphone virtualization, and bass boost

14. Built in support for video formats VP8, WebM, and audio formats AAC, AMR-WB

15. Support multiple camera

16. Support for extra large screen


Android 2.3 Devices

Google Nexus S, HTC Cha Cha, HTC Salsa, Samsung Galaxy S II (Galaxy S2), LG Optimus 3D, Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, Sony Ericsson Xperia neo, Sony Ericsson Xperia pro, Sony Ericsson Xperia mini, Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, Motorola Droid Bionic, HTC Pyramid (2.3.2)


The first two revisions, 2.3.1 and 2.3.2 are OTA updates. Android 2.3.3 release includes few feature improvements and API upgrades for developers. The upgrades are mainly on NFC (Near Field Communication) and Bluetooth. NFC is a useful technology in M-commerce that is expected to replace many types of cards we carry for transactions and can be used in ticketing and many other applications as well. The new API level assigned to Android 2.3.3 is 10.

Android 2.3.3

API Level 10

Table_04: Android 2.3.3 Additional Features


Additional Features:

1. Improved and extended support for NFC – this allows applications to interact with more types of tags and access them in new ways. The new APIs have included wider range of tag technologies and allow limited peer to peer communication.

Also it has a feature for developers to request Android Market to not to show their applications to users if the device does not support NFC. In Android 2.3 when an application is called by a user and if the device does not support NFC it returns a null object.

2. Support for Bluetooth non-secure socket connections – this allows applications to communicate even with devices that is not having UI for authentication.

3. New bitmap region decoder added for applications to clip part of an image and features.

4. Unified interface for media – to retrieve frame and metadata from input media file.

5. New fields for specifying AMR-WB and ACC formats.

6. New constants added for speech recognition API – this supports developers to show in their application a different view for voice search results.

The new feature, voice/video chat with Google Talk included in Android 2.3.4 is demonstrated in the video below.