Acer Iconia Honeycomb 3.1 Update

After choosing the Acer Iconia over the Motorola Xoom not too long ago, there were still some software issues I was hoping would be addressed in the future. In the last couple of days the tablet has received a couple of software updates (a 30 meg pre-3.1 update, and the 130 meg 3.1 update) and these are my initial thoughts on these updates after having 3.1 running on this tablet for a few hours.

First off, I really wasn't expecting one update, let alone two so soon since many of the Android blogs were writing about a Germany-specific rollout initially of 3.1 on the Iconia. Receiving both updates so quickly was a pleasant surprise.

As my previous post discussed, there were a couple of issues specific to the Acer Iconia Tab A500 that I was hoping would be addressed sooner rather than later:

  1. Not correctly setting the time automatically. Under 3.0, the tablet was exactly 12 hours behind where it should have been when automatically setting the time via the network and I had to manually set the time to correct it. This issue has been fixed in the 3.1 update.
  2. Cell Standby process. This appeared and consumed significant CPU resources under 3.0. It is no longer listed under the battery usage report so this issue appears to have been fixed as well. It will be interesting to see how much of an impact to overall battery life this has.

Also noted was the amount of application memory available under 3.0. This has reduced somewhat from 596 meg to 553 meg but is not a problem for me and still an improvement over my previous device.

One of the Google apps that was not available originally on the Acer was the Movie Studio app. I haven't used the app much yet so don't have much more to say about it than the fact that it wasn't there before but it is now.

A somewhat unexpected bonus was improved media (specifically video) support. Some of my older mp4 files that were not being recognized under 3.0 are now playable under 3.1. I haven't had time to look into the differences between these files but it is nice to have them now just work rather than having to dig into codec support issues down the road. I imagine this will result in a better 'out of box' experience for users who don't know or care about codecs.

On the hardware front, the Iconia now recognizes external storage devices connected via the full size USB port so devices like flash thumb drives work. The result is that now there are 3 functioning options for mass storage: built in flash, the microSD slot, and external USB devices. Say goodbye to the feeling that you're out of options for local storage.

Other than these noticeable changes, from a software standpoint the Iconia now looks and feels just like my previous 3.1 tablet did so a 'nice job' to Acer for providing a timely update that did pretty much what I hoped and expected it to do. As a result, a lot of my initial concern re: software updates have been put to rest and I look forward to seeing future updates from Acer. My largest remaining issue is the locked bootloader and I do hope that Acer changes their position on this and allows for unlocking it.

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