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Mystery of the Missing Honeycomb Apps

Brent Rose | July 2, 2011
Four months after its release, users are left wondering where the sweet Honeycomb apps are.


Tommy Forslund of Polarbit (Raging Thunder II and Reckless Racing, among others) agrees. "We don't have a specific Honeycomb version out for any of our apps--largely because there isn't a need for one. We do have versions out which run full-screen in high resolution, but these work on any Android device, regardless of OS version." The Polarbit developers use the Fuse engine (a third-party development platform similar to Unity) to accomplish this, which allows them to target many different operating systems and screen sizes at once.


Third-party development engines can handle all of the scaling for developers (as long as the visual assets used are of a high enough quality) across many different platforms. The developer needs to write an app only once, and the third-party development engine translates that app to run on many different platforms. Without these third-party engines, you would have to hire other teams of developers to accomplish that versatility, which many smaller companies can't afford.

App Discovery in the Market

When you buy your shiny new Honeycomb tablet, it's logical that the first thing you'll do is go to the Android Market, either on your device or on your PC, to find some apps.

The problem is, it's tough to find Honeycomb-optimized apps in the Market. Beyond the Google-selected "Featured Tablet Apps" section, you have no way to search by OS. Sure, Google likes to say that 2.x apps should run on Honeycomb, but the reality is more of a crapshoot than that. And just because they run doesn't mean they're optimized to take full advantage of the screen size, resolution, status bar, or other Honeycomb-specific features.

Then there are the apps that are optimized for Honeycomb, but don't clearly mention this fact, if it's mentioned at all.

For example, Flixster's Movies app is actually optimized for Honeycomb, but you would never know that from the description (or any of the other text) in its Android Market listing. The only way you'd know it is if you just happened to scroll through all of the app screenshots until you got to the very last one, where you can see that it's clearly running in the Honeycomb environment.
This is absurd. There has to be a better way to search for Honeycomb-optimized apps. On this point, the developers all agreed that while the Android Market had made fantastic strides in just the last few months, it still has to step up its game.

Chris Cheung, product manager of SketchBook at AutoDesk, thinks Google "... has to address the user experience of the Android Market, because it plays a large factor in consumer confidence and purchasing. Right now users have to rely on other ways of finding information," he adds, referring to third-party sites such as Tegra Zone (Nvidia's site showcasing apps optimized for the Tegra2 processor).

 

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