Ina Fried

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Backstage at Dive Into Mobile–Google’s Andy Rubin Talks Tablet, Music

Moments after he finished his chat with Kara and Walt on Monday, Google Vice President Andy Rubin sat down with Mobilized for an interview. Among the things he confirmed is that Honeycomb isn’t just the next generic version of Android. It’s a version of the operating system completely focused on adapting the heretofore phone-centered product to run on a tablet.

During his onstage talk, Rubin showed a prototype Motorola tablet running Honeycomb. Though the demo was brief, Rubin showed a few things, such as the fact that there are no hardware buttons on the Motorola tablet, meaning that there is no “right way” to hold it. He also showed a design metaphor with tabs that could show things side by side on a tablet, while displaying the information on successive screens on a phone.

“I think those are small things,” Rubin said, suggesting that the company wouldn’t have done a separate version of Android if it didn’t also have some big things in store for Honeycomb.

Rubin didn’t offer much in the way of specifics on what those big things would be, however.

“I did the sneak peek,” he said. “I don’t want to go into great details about the product. There will be a big event.”

One of the few technical details he did mention was that the Motorola tablet was using a dual-core Nvidia graphics chip.

Mobilized’s colleague Peter Kafka turned the talk to music and Google’s plans to build its own music service.

Rubin wouldn’t directly confirm any plans or details, but acknowledged that music is an area of interest, an experience that is key on a mobile device and one that he wants to see on Android. Earlier this year Google proposed an ambitious cloud-based locker/subscription service to the major labels, but that has yet to move forward.

What about starting with something simple, like the kind of download store that Apple already offers via iTunes?

“We could build that 10 times over,” Rubin said. It’s “not the right experience.”

He noted that his first date, at age 15, was to a record store. And that he still remembers the records under consideration as he and his date browsed the aisles.

“It was a very memorable time,” Rubin said. “I think music actually makes a connection that is pretty unique. I want to make sure we are building products that have an intimate connection.”