Android "Honeycomb" tossing buttons like a bad habit

Posted by Mark Raby

Whether it's the iPhone, Xbox 360 Kinect, or now the latest version of Android, it looks like the concept of having to press buttons is becoming a thing of the past.

Google's next version of the Android operating system promises a whole lot of changes, but one of the biggest will come in that those Home, Back, Menu, and Search buttons that come standard with every Android phone will be nixed entirely.

Instead, Android 3.0 will rely entirely on touch-screen controls, just like the iPhone has been doing from day one.

In addition to showing just how much of a cataclysmic shift the 3.0 version of Android will be, it pretty much solidifies that any current Android phone may not be upgradeable to the new OS when it comes out next year. There's a fundamental hardware shift they'll have to contend with.

Google wants to sort of go back to the drawing board with Android 3.0, code-named "Honeycomb," by setting very stringent guidelines on what manufacturers must include in their devices to get Android 3.0 certification.

It hopes to eradicate the "fragmentation" problem that has cropped up over the past couple years, wherein dozens of Android phones are at odds with one another and cause mayhem for app developers.

Google has also said 3.0 will be the optimal version of Android for tablets, even though some eager firms have already built tablets on the current Android software.

Android will still be upgraded to 2.3 before version 3.0 comes out, but it's unclear if there will be any more incremental updates between those two version numbers.