Last week, Google (newssite) released the SDK for its new mobile operating system. This week, the big public launch. So, what can you expect to hit your Android device when live updates begin?

Honey for the Bees

We're getting used to mobile updates being wonderful things, adding new features and expanding the world that fits into the palm of your hand. In the latest round of the battle between Apple's iOS and Google's Android, both firms are holding major events on Wednesday.

Apple is launching its iPad newspaper in conjunction with News International (more on that later) but is likely to be outshone by the public unveiling of Android 3.0, or Honeycomb, as its been known throughout development. The new OS is designed to help power the first generation of proper Android tablets, as well as bring smartphones up to specification.

However, with many phone makers and phone networks dragging their heels in pushing upgrades for existing Android users, this has the potential to be a highly contentious process. The networks want users to upgrade to new phones, while the makers need time to test compatibility. The potential for a customer backlash is pretty big here.

New Features-Rich

Among the features that Honeycomb will include are hardware acceleration, for improved video effects and performance, and multi-core CPU performance, which will help power the new 3D-effect desktop and interface. 

In addition, your bookmarks can now be synced to your desktop's Google Chrome browser and users can enjoy video chat via Google Talk. Other improvements will include refined multi-tasking plus the much-touted tablet support -- offering more of a challenge to Apple's iPad.


Will Xoom pose the first major threat to the iPad?

Will this launch put a stop to Apple's complaints of the Android tablets being nothing more than "vaporware?" Time will tell, but the first Honeycomb-powered product, Motorola's Xoom, is rumored to be released on February 17th with a rumored price of US$ 799.