Motorola Xoom: The First Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) Tablet

Honeycomb: App Store, Data Transfer, And Screenshots

App Store And Installation

There are three ways to install a program in Honeycomb.

  1. Search and install from the Market app (similar to App Store in iOS)
  2. Android apps use the APK file extension to package programs for installation. You can use AppInstaller to install APK files located on your memory card.
  3. If the app is located on a Web site, you can directly execute the APK file by downloading the file.

This is slightly different from iOS, because there's really no way to synchronize with your desktop using the Xoom. Apps directly installed from a Web site aren’t tracked. So, if you buy a new tablet, you have to reinstall those programs manually. Apps that you do buy from the Android Market are associated with your Google account. These are the only programs that will install automatically when you set up a new tablet with the same account.

While the installation process is a bit clumsy, my biggest complaint is the limited number of apps. No tablet platform can truly succeed without third-party app support. That’s something Apple enjoys in excess.

This is made more complicated because there’s no way to search for Honeycomb-specific apps within the Android Market. If you look at the Featured Android Apps For Tablets page, you’ll find that most of them are simply upconverted for a larger screen.

Data Transfer 

Windows 7 Compatibility

Unlike iTunes, there isn't a central hub to install programs and transfer data. With that said, Android is more Windows-friendly. There’s no need to install special drivers. Just connect a USB cable and you’re ready to transfer files. Windows 7 should automatically register any Android tablet as a compatible portable device. It’s that simple.

Mac OS X Compatibility

Android compatibility is a bit more complicated for Mac owners. There's no native support, and you need to install Android File Transfer. But you can't just drag and drop files like you can with a USB drive. Android File Transfer (AFT) works more like a Finder window within a program.


Enable USB debugging

Getting a screenshot in Honeycomb is vastly more complicated than iOS. With my iPad, I only have to press the Home and power button at the same time. iTunes automatically synchronizes pictures, so sharing pictures is as fast as docking the iPad. With Honeycomb-based tablets, you have to:

  1. Enable USB debugging in Honeycomb.
  2. Install the Android SDK
  3. Run the Android SDK and install libraries.
  4. Run the ddms.bat file in the installation directory
  5. Select the” Screen capture” under the Device menu in Dalvik Debug Monitor.

Windows 7: Open ddms.bat

Getting a Android Screenshot in Windows 7

Google definitely needs to simplify this because it isn’t just a problem with Xoom; it applies to every Android-based device. When I’m browsing on the iPad, I have the ability to take a screenshot and immediately email it to colleagues if I need to share information. We don't necessarily have to have this feature, but it bothers me to know I’m missing out on something to which iPad owners have easy access.

Installing Android SDK in OS X

If you have a Mac, you no longer need Parallels, Fusion, or Boot Camp to download your pictures. Google recently released the Android SDK for OS X, and the process is the same as it is in Windows. The only difference is that you need to first run android.exec in order to download SDK libraries (in the Tools folder under the Android directory). After that, opening the Dalvik Debug Monitor is as simple as running ddms.exec (also in the Tools folder).

Mac OS X: Opening ddms (just left click on ddms file)

Getting a Android Screenshot in OS X
  • dragonsqrrl
    Very impressive review, especially the display quality page. A lot of in-depth information.
  • joytech22
    Excellent! Covered everything I was interested in when comparing the iPad 2 to the Xoom.
  • tramit
    Excellent review. I also agree that the excuse of Android coming later in the game does not mean it cannot have the same growth in apps in the same alotted time frame that it was released.

    I personally feel that the iPad is a better device for gaming just by going through the app store and being able to find games ranging from Monopoly to FF3 and Infinity Blade. I have a Nexus S right now and the list of attractive games is not as long.

    I like having both devices however. I plan to stay the course with continuing to purchase Android Nexus phones and having Apple supply me with their iPad. I get to enjoy the best of both worlds and not narrow my enjoyment of tech like most Droid and Apple fanboys.
  • Maziar
    Excellent review.
    I'm impressed with the honeycomb but I think it has 2 major drawbacks
    1)UI is somehow laggy and not 100% smooth
    2)Lack of apps.
    If these 2 issues get fixed,then we're going to see a better competition
  • fstrthnu
    A little late, but very good quality review. Very nice to see custom benchmarks, it really shows you guys put in the effort here.

    I'd probably go for a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but that's just me.
  • Seems HD video playback was not tested. Nice to have a HDMI option, but not really useful if most HD movies cannot play smoothly as is the case with the XOOM.

    Also, and probably related to the slow video, Tegra 2's CPU has no NEON extensions, limiting applications that use signal processing.

    Yes, I do own a XOOM (also iPad 2 by the way)
  • acku
    Seems HD video playback was not tested. Nice to have a HDMI option, but not really useful if most HD movies cannot play smoothly as is the case with the XOOM.

    Also, and probably related to the slow video, Tegra 2's CPU has no NEON extensions, limiting applications that use signal processing.

    Yes, I do own a XOOM (also iPad 2 by the way)

    Check out page 13. We tested H.264 battery life using a ripped 1280x720 Blu-ray movie.

    On page 12, we also show HD playblack when you're mirroring the display.

    @Everyone else. Thanks for the comments guys. If there's anything else you guy want to see in future reviews please let us know.

    Andrew Ku
  • house70
    Took quite a while to get this review done. Other tablets are already available that sport Honeycomb. Not to mention they are better than both contenders described in this article. I have a Transformer and no matter what I throw at it, it does it well. A review of that would be nice (maybe in another year or so...).
    Good effort, but as others have said, late to the table.
  • house70
    What the reviewer perceives as weaknesses, others perceive as strength. Example: the apps installation process. Not having to deal with iTunes is a bonus in itself, and having the option to make your own backups using whatever application you prefer is also a plus. The reviewer got a bit carried away by his personal bias towards iTunes/iOS environment. There are people that prefer to be led by hand while operating their tablet and there are others that prefer to pick and choose their options without limitations. It's a matter of personal preference. But this should not transpire into an objective review. Other than that, not too bad.
  • Wow - I couldn't disagree more with some of your views. Obviously you love you some Apple... I'm not an Apple hater - I have a Macbook Pro, I have an iPad, and I have a Xoom. I tell everyone the Xoom is 5X the tables the iPad is (Granted it's an iPad, not an iPad2 - but my beef with iPads are how much Apple controls what you can or can't do with it - that has not changed in the new generation of iPads). The iPad I can use as a toy, or as a cool media gadget - I actually basically gave it to my 6 year old son now bc that's all I can do with it. The Xoom I can use as so much more - it is was more useful on so many levels. Yes rendering takes a bit longer when you flip th screen, yes there are a few small quirks in it's behavior occasionally, but from an overall usefulness point of view I like it TONS betters than the iPad. Widgets - MultiTasking - OpenSource app development with an App store NOT controlled by Apple. Android IS the future for tablets. Apple needs to take note - they are just lucky at this point bc of their following, but Android will leave them in the dust. MS isn't even in the game and won't be even when Windows 8 hits. And you price comparison is off too IMO. $599 (now $499) for 32MB on the Xoom was in line (and is now better) than Apple's price point. Take it a step further and look the the Asus Eee Pad Transformer (very similar to Xoom with some things done even better) at $399. Android is taking hold, and will gain on Apple quickly, and eventually blow them away.