Two different instances of handsets running what appears to be Android 2.4 have shown up on the Android news blogs in the necent days. First there was the Sony Ericsson Arc being previewed at CES with what appeared to be Android 2.4 as the OS version, but a video showing a Nexus S also running what appears to Android 2.4 has also appeared. Now, Pocket-Lint has received word from a source that Android Ice Cream (Android 2.4) would be released around June or July.
Yesterday, Sony Ericsson released a statement that the appearance of Android 2.4 in their phone was a mistake due to a "misconfiguration", which may be true, but also may have been a move by Sony Ericsson to keep Android 2.4 under-wraps for now. However, I think the second possibility is not likely.
The appearance of a Nexus S running what appears to be Android 2.4 is also intriguing, as the man and woman in the video discuss the future of the Nexus S in Germany. Some people at XDA are doubtful that the version is real, but no real reason has yet surfaced to indicate whether or not Android 2.4 is already running on devices.
Check out the video for yourself below:
The two sightings, as well as Pocket-Lint's source have fueled speculation on whether the two devices really do have Android 2.4 installed on them, when Android 2.4 might release, and what changes might be coming with Android 2.4.
The 2.4 version of Android was previously thought by some to be Android Honeycomb, but after it was officially announced that Honeycomb is Android 3.0, this leaves us in a strange position. It now seems that Google and the Android team might be splitting development of Android into two segments due to the split of the numbering scheme.
This idea, however, goes against what Googler Matias Duarte said at CES in an interview about Android Honeycomb and it's future on smartphones.
Android 1.5 was called Cupcake, and Android 1.6 was named Donut. The name of each additional OS revision has up to this point moved one letter farther down the alphabet with each subsequent OS version. Gingerbread was Android 2.3 and with Honeycomb being Android 3.0, you would expect that Android Ice Cream (the expected name of the Android OS version to follow Honeycomb) would be some number after 3.0.
This raises questions as to whether Android 2.4 will be a major revision deserving of it's own name, or whether it will be a small update like Android 2.0, and not receive any new code name at all, thus staying with Gingerbread. Maybe Google is working on Android 2.4 as the last version in the 2.x series of OS updates, and afterwards will move on completely to 3.x and above.
Continuing on the assumption that Google will split Android development (which seems unlikely after hearing from Googler Matias Duarte last week), it may also indicate that Android will not go past version 2.9. However, I believe this possibility to be highly unlikely.
Pocket-Lint's sources gave no real evidence to support the idea that Android Ice Cream will be Android 2.4, and with the recent sighting of Android 2.4 on handsets, it is possible that the source just put the likelihood of an update coming at Google I/O together with these latest sightings. This seems even more likely when you consider that Pocket-Lint mentions that their sources would not go "on the record" about what Google plans on doing with Android in the future.
Only time and/or more leaks (with evidence) will tell. If Android 2.4 is real (which seems likely considering the amount of noise Gingerbread users are making), I anticipate it to be a small update, like Android 2.0, that will not receive a new name.
Image from Phandroid