Honeycomb: App Store, Data Transfer, And Screenshots
App Store And Installation
There are three ways to install a program in Honeycomb.
- Search and install from the Market app (similar to App Store in iOS)
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Enable USB debugging in Honeycomb.
- Install the Android SDK
- Run the Android SDK and install libraries.
- Run the ddms.bat file in the installation directory
- Select the” Screen capture” under the Device menu in Dalvik Debug Monitor.
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.
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).