Android Honeycomb Could Be Tablet-Only

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Google’s Android 3.0 Honeycomb release might never appear on smartphones

Google is being extremely cagey about the future of Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), amid rumours that the new mobile operating system will only roll out on tablets, not smartphones.

At a press event on 2 February, Andrew Kovacs, a spokesman for Google, reportedly said that features from Honeycomb “will arrive on phones over time,” but declined to elaborate on when this might be. The comment has led to rumours that Android 3.0 is a tablet-only OS – for now at least.

Google’s follow-up statement on the issue is equally enigmatic:

“The version of Honeycomb we’ve shown is optimised for tablet form factors. All of the UI changes are the future of Android. The event we held focused on tablet form factors, which is where you’ll first see Honeycomb.”

Android fragmenting?

It has already been widely reported that Android Honeycomb is optimised for tablets, after a Google product manager admitted in September 2010 that Android 2.2 (Froyo) build was not built with tablets in mind. Meanwhile, the first smartphone to feature Android 2.3, codenamed Gingerbread, was the Samsung Nexus S, launched in December.

Android 2.3 boasts some serious user interface changes, but the big one includes near field communications capabilities to enable mobile payments and other short-range wireless scanning activities via handsets.

It has been suggested that Google wants to keep the 3.X number scheme for Android tablet builds, and continue on the 2.X path for smartphones. However, this would lend more support to complaints that Android is fragmented. Not only would Google have multiple Android version numbers, but two distinct version paths, one for tablets, one for smartphones.

Reports are now circulating about the arrival of Android 2.4, mooted for a May 2011 release. According to TechCrunch, Android architect Andy Rubin let slip that it will be dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich.

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