With Ice Cream Sandwich on less than 1% of devices, Google is already looking ahead to their next version of Android, code name Jellybean. And in true Google fashion, that launch could be coming as early as June, according to industry watcher DigiTimes.
Citing supply chain sources, DigiTimes states that Android 5.0 will be more heavily focused on the tablet experience, with special care taken in regard to running dual OS's, such as Microsoft Windows 8. Windows 8 will release a consumer preview in March, with a full-on release expected in the third quarter of this year. Brand vendors will then be able to choose solely Android systems for new tablets, or adopt a dual-boot system that would allow users to easily switch between mobile versions of Android or Windows 8.
Google I/O is now just around the corner, and it would be very much in Google style to at least announce a new Android version at their annual developer's conference. This was the case last year, in which they dropped the news of Ice Cream Sandwich on the world. However, they didn't end up actually releasing that version until much later in the year. We do know that Google usually holds the best of their secrets back to showcase at Google I/O, and there are a few things that would be very buzzworthy for this year's conference. Android 5.0 would be just one of those. Project Majel would also make for an outstanding announcement, as would further developments in the Android@Home project, and Google's robot car advances over the last year.
While DigiTimes could be correct in some sense (i.e. an announcement of JB at Google I/O on June 27-29) it's doubtful that they would actually release the software at the same time. It's far more likely that they will announce, and then release later in the year, as was the case with ICS. We have to remember that the Galaxy Nexus launch is only a couple of months behind us, and Gingerbread is still prevalent on about 58% of devices, with ICS on less than 1%, and the rest still running Froyo, or even Eclair.
One other interesting tidbit in the DigiTimes report that raises eyebrows is that Android 5.0 could be used as a play into re-entering the netbook/notebook market. It's no secret that the Chromebook launch in mid 2011 didn't go as well as Google had hoped. Those manufacturers that took the gamble on Chrome OS are said to be "conservative" about pursuing a similar system. However, if a more full-featured Android OS designed for notebooks or netbooks were to be put on the table, it's entirely possible that it could galvanize Google's re-entry into that sector of the mobile market. Especially if it were a device that could easily swap between Windows 8 on ARM (WOA) and Android. What do you predict? Will Google release early, and iterate often, as has always been the case? Would you have more interest in an Android notebook, as opposed to a Chromebook? Are you excited at the prospect of a dual-boot Windows 8/Android tablet?