SAN FRANCISCO — Google Inc. is getting closer to releasing a version of the Android software meant for tablet computers, one that will include a fresh look and updated Internet browser and keyboard.

SAN FRANCISCO — Google Inc. is getting closer to releasing a version of the Android software meant for tablet computers, one that will include a fresh look and updated Internet browser and keyboard.

The online search leader said Wednesday that it released a preview version of the software development kit for Honeycomb, also known as Android 3.0. It's for developers to test out their applications on the software and learn about its new capabilities.

In a post Wednesday on Google's Android Developers blog, Xavier Ducrohet, the Android SDK tech lead, said a final version of the kit will be available "in the weeks ahead." That will enable developers to publish Honeycomb applications to Google's Android Market app store.

Tablet computers are expected to be popular this year, spurred by the release of Apple Inc.'s iPad last April. Plenty are expected in the coming months as companies try to compete with the popular device.