Android 3.0 Honeycomb due for March launch

We've only just witnessed the launch of Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but the next-generation version of Google's open source mobile platform is just around the corner - and could hit the streets as early as March.

It's an open secret that many manufacturers have been holding off on producing tablets based around Google's Android mobile platform until the company releases a version more suited to a large-format display. And, while many had hoped that the recent Gingerbread update would represent the step forward needed, it turned out not to be the case.

Hopes are now resting on Honeycomb, with manufacturers included Motorola, Asus, and MSI thought to be holding back on the launch of Android-based tablet devices until Google has produced an OS that can better compete with Apple's hugely successful iOS, as found in the iPad.

Now, unnamed industry insiders are quoted by rumour mill DigiTimes as slating a March release for Android 3.0, known as Honeycomb, which promises to bring the tablet-specific improvements required for the companies to launch their devices.

With current Android devices, largely based around Android 1.6 at the budget end and Android 2.2 at the premium end, proving a difficult sell when compared to Apple's polished iPad, it remains to be seen if Honeycomb will prove the magic bullet that so many companies appear to be banking on.

With a software launch in March, we can expect to be waiting until April at the earliest to find out if Honeycomb can push Android tablets into the big leagues.