Google has officially announced the next version of Android. Ice Cream Sandwich is envisaged as a "unified Android experience" for both phones and tablets.
Day 1 of Google's I/O 2011 Conference saw two widely anticipated announcements: Honeycomb 3.1 for tablets and Ice Cream Sandwich which will be a platform for all mobile devices.
The Honeycomb decimal point update, which users of the Motorola Xoom can download immediately and which will be available for Google TV in the next few months, will offer resizable widgets to make viewing documents, mail, and apps easier. It also improves the task switcher making moving through multiple open apps a lot more smooth and has support for USB peripherals such as phones, cameras, printers, keyboards, controllers.
Google is calling Ice Cream sandwich "the one OS that works everywhere" with new APIs to help with scalability — phones, tablets, and anything else in between. Coming in Q4 2011, it will combine Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with Honeycomb functionality including holographic user interface, better multitasking, new launcher and richer widgets.
While the source code for Ice Cream Sandwich will be released to the Android Open Source Project as is Google's normal practice the Honeycomb code will remain an exception and never be released.
In answer to a question after the Day 1 keynote of Google I/O Andy Rubin confirmed that Honeycomb on its own would not be open, because its phone functionality is very broken. Rather Ice Cream Sandwich will take all of the Honeycomb functionality and combine it with phone functionality - presumably in code that Google is happy to allow the world to scrutinise rather than the embarrassing, substandard mess that is going to be kept behind locked doors. I can see there point!
The promise of Ice Cream Sandwich marks the end of a messy period in the development of Android. I for one say, let's try and forget and move on... as soon as possible please!