Android Honeycomb Successor Mooted For May

The next build of Android following Honeycomb (or Android 2.4 or 3.0) is slated to arrive on phones this summer

Media reports are circulating about the arrival of the next version of Google’s Android operating system after Honeycomb.

PocketLint calls it Ice Cream, numbers it Android 2.4 and says it will be unveiled at Google I/O in May and arrive on smartphones in summer 2011.

That launch cycle mirrors that of Android 2.2. Google introduced Android 2.2, or Froyo at its I/O conference in May.

The OS, equipped with more speed, Adobe Flash support and better Microsoft Exchange capabilities, was released to open source in June and appeared on the Motorola Droid 2 later that summer.

Numbering Confusion

TechCrunch however begs to differ with the nomenclature of Android 2.4, noting that Android architect Andy Rubin let slip that it will actually be dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich.

For those keeping score, something still doesn’t add up to parsing with the Android number scheme.

Google has just launched Android 2.3, codenamed Gingerbread.

Motorola at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show tipped the coming of Android 3.0 for its Xoom tablet, slated for a February launch. That means Android 3.0 will be ready for February.

Technically, if Honeycomb is Android 3.0, shouldn’t the future Ice Cream or Ice Cream Sandwich be numbered Android 3.1 or something?

How does Google, which is loaded with more math talent than NASA, mess that up? Here’s a theory.

Tablet Vs Smartphone

Pocket Lint in its musing noted that Android 3.0 would be for the tablet form factor only, and not cross over to Android smartphones. It’s possible Google wants to keep the 3.X number scheme for Android tablet builds, and continue on the 2.X path for smartphones.

Of course, that would lend more cannon fodder for the cries about Android being fragmented. Not only would Google have multiple Android version numbers, but two distinct version paths, one for tablets, one for smartphones.

One final point: What none of the gadget blogs are reporting yet is just what will come to pass as new features in Android 2.4 when it lands next summer.

Android 2.3 boasts some serious input 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.

Android 3.0’s calling card is that it has been redesigned from the ground up to support 3D rendering and is optimised for the big-screen style of the Xoom, which measures 10.1 inches, and others of its ilk.

So what will Android 2.4 hold for the future of the platform?