If Google's Ice Cream Sandwich was supposed to unify Android devices, it may not stay unified for long.
ANALYSIS: Android 4.0: A rundown of key features
According to one report published on DigiTimes, device manufacturers are apparently already disappointed with the adoption rate of Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich") despite the fact that it was only released last October and has only been released to a limited number of devices so far. To rectify this, Google is supposedly planning to launch Android 5.0, codenamed "Jelly Bean," in the second quarter of 2012. DigiTimes' Monia Chen writes that the newest version of Android will "be further optimized for tablet PCs, while Google will also integrate its Chrome system functions to push dual-operating system designs" that will allow vendors to create Windows-based tablets capable of switching to Android depending on a user's wishes.
The report has generated skepticism on major tech blogs. Karan Shah of Tech2 writes that it seems "too soon" to release yet another version of Android with Ice Cream Sandwich having just hit the market. All the same, Shah acknowledges that the transition of older devices to Ice Cream Sandwich hasn't been nearly as smooth or fast as Google and device vendors had envisioned, meaning that coming out with another version of Android is not entirely implausible. So far, only 1% of all Android devices are running on Ice Cream Sandwich and Motorola announced yesterday that none of its Android smartphones available in the United States would be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich until the second half of 2012.
Scott Webster of Android Guys, meanwhile, urges strong skepticism of the DigiTimes report and says the publication has "been way off the mark" at times when reporting chatter between companies and concludes that since Ice Cream Sandwich "is barely even out, we cannot help but consider this a bunch of 'lost in translation' stuff." Webster also says he wouldn't be surprised to see Google announce a new version of Android at its Google I/O conference in June, but he'd be surprised if it was rolled out for use before the second half of the year.
Ice Cream Sandwich is the first edition of Google's open-source Android mobile platform that has been optimized for both tablets and smartphones. Google developed the platform to unite Android on both form factors and thus give application developers assurance that they can develop applications for Android that will perform consistently over different types of devices. In addition, the operating system came with several new features including a lock screen that can unlock using facial recognition software; Android Beam, technology that lets users send contact information, directions, Web pages and more via near field communications by tapping their phones together; and integration with the Google+ social network that lets users host online video chats among their circles of friends.
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