Back on November 14, 2011, the Android 4.0 source code was posted in the AOSP directory. It seems like so long ago, right? In three very short months, however, very little has changed for Android. Sure, the code has changed quite a bit, and tablets and smartphones are once again unified under one platform version. But only one percent of Android devices have been updated to the new software. And if Motorola's update schedule is any indication for other manufacturers' update plans, that one percent may go unchanged until late in the year.
But now that all the mystery of Ice Cream Sandwich is gone, the media and enthusiasts' eyes have naturally started looking beyond Ice Cream Sandwich. What's next? What will the next version of Android be called? When will it arrive?
Early this morning, a new rumor hit the mill. According to DigiTimes and Taiwanese supply chain makers, the next version of Android, version 5.0, will be dubbed Jelly Bean (which is not the first time we've heard that moniker) and will arrive at some point in Q2 of this year. For those keeping track, that means it would launch before July. DigiTimes explains:
"Android 5.0 will be further optimized for tablet PCs, while Google will also integrate its Chrome system functions to push dual-operating system designs. Brand vendors can either choose to adopt only Android 5.0 or add Android 5.0 to Windows 8 devices with the ability to switch between the two OSes without the need to shut down the computer."
Aside from stating the obvious, like the fact that 5.0 "will be "further optimized for tablet PCs," this rumor is kind of hard to take without a serious dose of salt. But let's say, for the sake of speculation, that the rumor is true. There is no denying that all of this would be sweet.
I've been trying time and time again to leave my computer at home and work entirely from a tablet. No cigar. The stock Android browser just doesn't have enough fire power, and the recently released Chrome Beta for Android is lacking Flash support in favor of HTML5. In other words, if you do a lot of web-based work, a la writing and other content creation, it just isn't logical.
However, I've been eyeing Windows 8 tablets since the first word on them dropped. It would bring a full desktop version of Windows to a compact tablet form factor. This would mean I could use a full version of Chrome and Firefox on a tablet and, well, get some work done. Then again, I would end up carrying two tablets with me. I don't want a full-fledged experience all the time, but Android just isn't ready to be a work horse.
Mix the two together in a dual-OS configuration, and it's a perfect balance of the two, all crammed into a single frame. What's even better than that is the fact that, according to the report, they will not be dual-boot options, but two simultaneous, side by side operating systems -- you have the ability to swap between them without rebooting the device.
Back to reality. What are the odds that Google will release Jelly Bean (if that's what it is to be called) by end of June? Slim. No, very slim.
Think about it. Only one percent of devices currently have Ice Cream Sandwich. If they release yet another OS update within seven months of Android 4.0, then roughly 99 percent (assuming manufacturers keep updating devices at their current pace) of devices will be at least two versions behind. Not only that, but you may recall that the Android development team decided they wanted to push their "game-changing features" of Android back to Jelly Bean and the update after that. I'm sure Google wants to intercept Windows 8 tablets as much as anyone (after all, the tablet market is shaping up to be very competitive), but it just doesn't seem logical for them to rush an update for it.
All of this sounds too good to be true. Sure, throwing dual-OS options in the tablet market might confuse some potential buyers, but with Microsoft feeding off of Android OEMs with patent licensing, it would only make sense for Google to fight fire with fire.
While I'll keep my fingers crossed for a Windows 8/Android tablet in the next four months, I won't be holding my breath. I'm litterally looking for any excuse I can to leave my MacBook at home, and this would be the device to finally allow it. But I seriously doubt we'll see anything like that by the end of Q2 this year.
How do you feel about these rumors? Are they off base? Do they make sense? Do you want Android 5.0 so soon, or should ICS have a little more time to bake before Google drops another update that OEMs will fail to keep up with?