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Google to merge smartphone and tablet versions of Android

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By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 15 Feb 2011 at 17:55

Google has promised Android updates will arrive every six months, with the next full version bringing together the best of the smartphone and tablet editions.

The Android roadmap was laid out by Google's executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt, who was delivering a keynote speech at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Regarding the follow up to Gingerbread (version 2.3 of Android) and the tablet-focused Honeycomb (version 3), Schmidt said: "you can imagine the follow up will start with an I, be named after dessert, and will combine these two." That version is expected to be called "ice-cream sandwich".

Schmidt also showed off a new video-editing app called Movie Studio for Honeycomb tablets.

Schmidt said Chrome OS devices will start to appear on the market soon. "You will see sometime in the spring hardware manufacturers will start delivering," he said.

Google said at the launch of the netbook-oriented Chrome OS last year that devices would hit shelves by this summer.

Where's Larry?

One member of the MWC audience asked why Larry Page, Schmidt's replacement as CEO, wasn't delivering the speech. Schmidt said it was "part of the deal" that sees Page take over as CEO and Schmidt stick around as "executive chairman."

"Larry said, 'Eric you get to fly around more'. He’s extremely happy that I’m here," Schmidt said. "Larry’s probably asleep at the moment, but if he’s up, he’s busy working, at his desk."

Schmidt was also asked about the deal between Microsoft and Nokia, and admitted Google failed to convince the latter to use Android as its main mobile platform. “We would have loved it had [Nokia] chosen Android; the offer's still open," he said. "We certainly tried.”

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User comments

The issue Android now faces is now standardization of experience for Android users. This to me has 2 big factors:

1) Minimising handset operators and/or network providers ability to skin Android or to integrate their own crap into the OS. This means that upgrades are easier to doand they don't have the Sony Ericsson bollocks of saying it's too difficult so no more OS upgrades for users, and should also mean updates are pushed out to users quicker and cleaner.

2) Get manufaturers to guarantee a certain life of phone upgrade path so that if someone buys a phone today they know that they will receive these half-annual upgrades from their manufacturers for 2 years or so, and because of 1) above they'll get them in a timely manner.

Too many Android users are being marooned on old iterations of the OS because their handset makers have decreed that it's too difficult or they can't be arsed updating them; very rarely is there an issue with the hardware.

While these are users' issues with the phone makers rather than Google it does impact the quality of the Android experience and has an effect on future phone choices and also impacts word of mouth.

By Phoomeister on 16 Feb 2011

Lessons learnt...

This is the one big plus of Windows Phone 7 at the moment (time will see if they can really pull it off by forcing the updates through.

By big_D on 16 Feb 2011

I'm using a Hero on 2.1, not getting anymore updates from T-Mobile even though performance on 2.1 is a bit choppy and according to what I've read elsewhere would be improved by moving to 2.2 or 2.3.

Thankfully I'm at the end of my contract so will be installing a custom rom soon.

By Deano on 16 Feb 2011

@big_D

The one big plus of WP7??? the updates???? WHAT UPDATES??? ohhhhh you mean the one that was suposed to come in december 2010, then slipped to january, february, now Mr Balmer says it will see the light of day in May? THAT update? right... yeah... great track record so far... but we all know MS knows better :P

By storm311 on 16 Feb 2011

I lean heavily towards the "open" environment of Android, so 3 months ago I bought an Android phone from Sony Ericcson.

I now find I am locked behind the update route, currently stuck with 2.1, and, worse, I find the operating system/phone hardware doesn't support some Google software products (Earth and Goggles to name but 2). I researched Android phones before I bought, and found no mention of this - OK the operating system update issue is pretty well known, but not that Google software may not work on an Android phone.

Where is the sense in that.

It is fine for Google to keep announcing the future, but not by ignoring a trail of burnt people behind them.

My 2gen Ipod Touch has always been updated promptly to the next OS even though it cannot feature some stuff due to lack of cameras, etc. So, even though I hate itunes with a passion, and the concept of a tied down OS, I am very tempted by iPhone and iPad.

Sort it out Google, before you lose us all.

PS I now hate myself for even suggesting I might be an Apple clone. Perhaps I should come out of the closet and admit my true feelings.

By Porkie13 on 17 Feb 2011

Android TM

What they should have done/do is keep the Android software open source, but only allow handset manufacturers to use the name/logo if they commit to certain conditions (like rolling out updates).

Porkie - Apple's model works because iTunes lets them bypass the telcos. Adobe wanted to roll out Flash updates directly, but the telcos said no. They don't want people updating phones, they want us to replace our out-of-date phones.

By JulesLt on 17 Feb 2011

Phone manufacturers need to "get with it"

@Deano I'm in the same boat. T-Mobile took about 6 months to get their modified 2.1 rolled out. I'd rather have vanilla Android any day. There are so many customizations available (apps!) so where's the need for fancy skins? In the case of HTC, their skin is very social networky, but unnecessarily so. I don't want all the extras they provide. In the past, HTC released some apps and widgets that would install only on HTC handsets... why not adopt that approach for ALL of their customizations? Give the users the choice, and at the same time enable standard Android updates.

By blueleaf on 17 Feb 2011

High and dry with SE

@Porkie13 I too have an X10 and share the pain of being 'left behind' by SE when Android changes every 6mo. I think a clear commitment from manufacturers is needed -we assume our PCs will run subsequent OSs but the release cycle is less frequent of course.
The answer is custom ROMs from Modaco, XDA devs etc. I'll pay a small fee to keep up to date. I've just custom ROMed a ZTE Blade with great ease to 2.2.
Oh, I have Goggles 1.3.1 running happily on my SE stock 2.1 firmware.

By DrMatt on 17 Feb 2011

New OS name?

Starts with I, is named after a dessert, will combine the two.

Hmmm... that'll be an iPud then?

By Midnight_Voice on 17 Feb 2011

O2?

Anyone know if O2 ties you in like that?

By Dairs on 21 Feb 2011

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