updated 02:35 pm EST, Mon February 7, 2011
Android 2.4 may keep phones and tablets fragmented
Google may be planning to keep Android 2 and 3 segregated in a long-term split of the platform, according to a ViewSonic source on Monday. The 2.4 update, once thought to be called Ice Cream, is now said to be a continuation of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) that would simply add backwards compatibility for dual-core apps on single-core phones. Ice Cream, Pocket-lint heard, should be Android 3.1 and would keep the two apart in features and the interface.
A 2.4 launch would arrive sometime in April.
The ViewPad 4 would be one of the first devices to carry Android 2.4. Its first ever smartphone will have a processor fast enough to record and play 720p video along with a four-inch display and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
Google hasn't confirmed the details and isn't expected to have a comment until either the April update or until the Google I/O developer conference in May, which often plays host to new Android developments. The event sold out to regular developers in an hour.
If true, the schism could create problems for Google's attempts to promote Android as a unified platform for both phones and tablets. Although the two platforms will have some support for interchangeable apps, the feature could lead to a visibly inconsistent experience. Android 3.0 depends exclusively on touchscreen controls, an elaborate new multitasking system and other new visual metaphors while Android 2.3 and likely 2.4 will still rely more heavily on physical buttons and different cues.
Some of Apple's success with the iPad has been credited to its platform consistency. Apart from the larger screen resolution and minor elements like pop-over menus, the interface is identical on both the iPad and iPhone. The decision creaties a relatively conservative OS but allows for universal apps and a familiar experience.