13 things you might see in Android 4.0

Original author: Taylor Wimberly
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According to Google spokesman Mike Clairon, the next version of the Android OS (codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich) will be the most significant release in the company's history. We know that the Android team is aiming to release a new version in the fourth quarter, and that's essentially all we know about the upcoming big update to the mobile OS. We, the team of the Android and Me site , love to gossip, so we tried to collect all the rumors about Ice Cream Sandwich and find out how true they are. Read about the new features that are likely to be included in the next version of Android.

1. One operating system for everything

“If I had to choose just one word to describe Android’s phenomenal growth last year, that word would be choice,” said Mike Clairon at the Google I / O conference in May. He continued with a description of devices of various sizes and shapes - smartphones, tablets, TVs, etc. running Android OS. “Our highest priority when developing Ice Cream Sandwich is to provide application developers with tools that they can easily write great applications for all of these devices.”

The biggest problem for Android developers is fragmentation. Smartphones, tablets and TVs are running various versions of Android. Google is trying to teach developers how to deal with screens of various sizes, but at the same time, they understand the severity of the problem (which is confirmed by the recent introduction of the ability to download various versions of the application focused on different devices).

And how did Google get into this situation? “We cut the corner,” Andy Rubin said in a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek .

Last year, Google faced a serious problem. They wanted to release the tablet version of Android as quickly as possible in order to compete with the iPad from Apple, and therefore divided the developers into two groups. One part was developing Gingerbread for smartphones, and the second was developing Honeycomb for tablets.

“In order to be on time, we made compromises,” said Andy Rubin. “We didn’t even want to think about how to launch the same version (Honeycomb) on smartphones. This would require additional resources and delay beyond reasonable. ”

Therefore, Google continued in the same style - made its debut with Gingerbread on the Nexus S in December, and the Honeycomb version appeared on Motorola Xoom in February. And since then, the Android development team has made every effort to combine these branches back into a single whole.

2. Modern user interface

We do not know exactly what Ice Cream Sandwich will look like, but we know that this will be the updated holographic interface that we first saw on Honeycomb tablets. During the Google I / O, it was stated that “all the good things” that debuted at Honeycomb should also appear on smartphones. This includes the holographic user interface, the new launcher, the new multitasking interface, more advanced widgets and modern applications.

Some believe that new Android smartphones may abandon capacitive buttons in favor of on-screen buttons, like tablets with Honeycomb, but it's too early to talk about it. Ice Cream Sandwich will appear on existing phones, so support for capacitive buttons is likely to remain.

3. Truly open source software

If you are a fan of custom firmware, then you will be pleased with the news that Google plans to post the source code for Ice Cream Sandwich as part of the Android Open Source Project . Google laid out the source code for each version of Android a few months after its release on new devices, but decided not to do this with Honeycomb. Andy Rubin said that Google would like to save developers from porting this version to smartphones so as not to “spoil the reputation. We don’t even know if it will work on phones. ”

The developers should like Ice Cream Sandwich, and I’m sure that we will see CyanogenMod 8 a month after the source opens.

4. Hello, Android 4.0

Google does not assign version numbers to its releases until the very last moment, but rest assured that Ice Cream Sandwich will eventually become Android 4.0. If this version will be the most significant release in the history of the company, then it makes no sense to call it Android 3.x. We know that Apple will release iOS 5 this fall , so Google will try not to miss the moment to loudly announce a significant update compared to Android 3.x

5. Linux 3.0 kernel

I'm not a Linux fan, so I'm not even going to go into details, but Ice Cream Sandwich will be based on core 3.0. Linus Torvalds announced the last update on July 21 to mark the 20th anniversary of Linux , and that’s all I can say about it.

6. Buying music in the Android Market

We have long been waiting for Google to start selling music in its Market, but this has not happened yet. Although it recently became clear that the latest Market update already contains icons for their music store, so Google will only have to press a button when the time comes. This may happen before the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, but I believe that Google will roll out this opportunity with the release, to give a greater effect of Android 4.0

7. Optimization for multi-core processors in smartphones

Android 3.0 was the first version to support both single and multi-processor architecture. Android 2.x also supports multi-processor architecture, but its support was not originally planned, so the question arises about its optimality.

Honycomb has brought a lot of changes to the Dalvik virtual machine, the Bionic library and other places, which benefits all applications, including single-threaded ones. For example , a single-threaded application running on a platform with two cores is accelerated, as the Dalvik VM garbage collector runs on the second core.

Rumors and some evidence give us the right to hope that Google will use the four-core OMAP4 processor as the main platform under Ice Cream Sandwich, which will lead to a significant increase in smartphone performance.

8. 1.8 times faster than Honeycomb?

Speaking of performance, one of our sources announced a 1.8-fold increase in performance over Honeycomb. He did not give any details, so we do not know what this figure refers to - the browser, GPU or overall performance. All we know is that they probably had in mind the performance gain on the latest hardware.

Whatever happens, we dare to assume that Ice Cream Sandwich will be the fastest version of Android.

9. Google TV and Chrome OS

With the merging of different versions of Android into one, it is possible that Google will support a reasonable endeavor of Motorola - a docking station. I mean, the user interface will change dynamically, depending on which device or dock the phone is connected to. If connected to a TV, then there will be features specific to Google TV or a full browser in the style of Chrome OS. We predicted this in January, and I believe that this will happen sooner or later.

10. Official OEM engine for OEMs

Although we place this in the rumors section, we were told that Google is working on an official engine with some OEM manufacturers (there are rumors about Sony). Most popular launchers from the Android Market (including my favorite Go Launcher EX) уже включают поддержку тем, но Google никогда не предлагал этого по умолчанию.

Это может привести к образованию некоего сообщества для облегчения перехода на новые версии. Отдельный движок позволит Google выпускать обновления для ядра мобильной ОС, а дополнения интерфейса от OEM производителей останутся нетронутыми.

11. Реальный соперник для Apple Game Center

На Android уже было реализовано несколько социальных игровых сетей (OpenFeint, Scoreloop), и похоже что Google всерьез занялся разработкой ответа на Apple Game Center

Слухи о сервисе Google Games ходят на протяжении последних нескольких лет, и кажется что Google+ суждено сыграть ключевую роль в этом сервисе. Код Google+ содержит links to Google Games , and one of our sources confirmed that we will see this service in Ice Cream Sandwich.

12. Support for existing phones

At the Google I / O conference, I asked the Android development team about hardware limitations that might prevent Ice Cream Sandwich from running on existing phones. I was not named specific models, but it was said that most phones that run Android 2.3 will be able to run Ice Cream Sandwich. This does not give any guarantees to owners of modern Android phones, but we believe that the Nexus One and Nexus S will be among the first models to receive an update to Android 4.0

13. New camera features

We can confidently say that Ice Cream Sandwich will receive a bunch of new development APIs, including new features of the built-in camera. Several of them have already been demonstrated on Google I / O and you can familiarize yourself with them in the video above (or watch the whole key points from the first day).


The closer we are to the release of Android 4.0, the more details about the future release appear. Some believe that this may happen in October, but we would talk about the end of November or December. We would love to see Ice Cream Sandwich and the new Nexus 3, but Google's release history suggests that this will happen sooner rather than earlier. I personally prefer that they use their time to good use, rather than rolling out another semi-finished release in the style of Honeycomb.

What do you expect from Android 4.0?

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