Google is apparently releasing its next Android version for tablets this Spring. That’s surprising since Android 4.0 was just released this past fall and then only on a few devices. This rush to get Android 5.0 out before Windows 8 is released in the Fall seems a bit precipitous. After all many users are still waiting for their devices to be updated to Android 4.0 sometime this year and now it looks like that update will be obsolete by the time it arrives.
DigiTimes and BGR are both reporting that Google wants to get Android 5.0 out to manufacturers of tablets as a dual boot option for Windows 8 tablets. Android 5.0 will be optimized for tablets (smartphones need not apply) and will have a dual boot function that will allow tablets with the operating system to boot into another operating system as well. So if you need Windows software for your tablet to be a truly functional work tablet but like the way Android does other things, you can have the best of both worlds, maybe.
Android Developers describes Android 4.0 as a platform for both tablets and smartphones. In other words, it provided a way for developers to create themes, apps and other android content for both platforms at the same time. It was supposed to do away with the fragmentation in the Android market caused by the various different versions of Android for both phone and tablet. Now it looks as if Android is headed back that way.
As someone who just purchased a new Android phone with operating system 2.3.4, known as Gingerbread, that is expected to be updated to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) this sudden shift is disconcerting. Purchasing a tablet in the near future with the “new” Ice Cream Sandwich software was something I was looking forward to but now it seems it might be better to wait.
While it is mentioned that Android 4.0 has been adopted slowly, the reasons for that have been explained in PC Magazine. It is a long and arduous process requiring the adaptation of the code to various hardware configurations and vendor requirements.
. . .it must merge and adapt the new release for different device hardware architectures and carrier customizations; stabilize and bake the release to drive out bugs; submit the upgrade to the carriers for certification; and then finally release or push the upgrade to customers.
According to BGR, the lengthy process that the manufacturers are going through to get Android 4.0 onto devices, will slow down the adoption of Android 5.0. the manufacturers are still busy with 4.0 and really don’t want to deal with another new software version right now. They still aren’t sure exactly how 4.0 is doing since so few handsets and tablets have it. Their sales plans for the second and third quarter include updating current devices, and releasing new devices with Ice Cream Sandwich. Having the new Jellybean released so soon could damage the sale of Ice Cream Sandwich devices because consumers will want to wait a little longer for the latest version.
Of course all of this assumes that DigiTime’s rumor is accurate. The rumor may actually be wrong. If it is wrong, it may sooth manufacturers who want to be able to sell the products they are reading for market without the prospect of obsolescence at the time they hit the sales floor.
Let’s see what happens.