Some days ago I had my hands on the new Android 3.0 and I would like to share my first impression and how the UI differs from the iPad interface. Actually Honeycomb looks good, the overall look and feel is smooth and it has its own identity.
Basically Honeycomb has a stronger 3-dimensional appearance and navigation than the iPad. Whereas on the iPad the home screens are arranged side-by-side, Honeycomb gives an impression of finding yourself in the middle of a carousel, sliding the home screens sideways. This carousel concept is also used in several apps.
The translucent deep dark colors of Honeycomb bring even more depth to the UI and make it feel serious and exclusive. The desktop metaphor on Android 3.0 allows the user to get quickly comfortable with the platform. Similar Widgets are stackable upon other, picking up the concept of depth and 3D again.
The iPad on the other hand does not allow to create that lovely and vivid chaos on your home screen. Everything is rather neatly arranged in a grid, every App is shown in a standard fixed-dimension-Icon. The color range and visual language of the iPad is found in all Apple Products making it easy for the users to get an orientation.
I hoped that the release of Android 3.0 would provide a new set of nice gestures to navigate through the tablet. But neither iPad nor Honeycomb are using multi-touch gestures to the maximum - something that would be very helpful for experienced users.
From the usability point of view the revamped Android 3.0 UI caught-up with the king of usability, thereby making it harder for users to decide on a platform.