Android users: We hope you've got some sort of sweet tooth, as a surprising rumor out of Taiwan claims that you might be following up that Ice Cream Sandwich you just finished with a big ol' Jelly Bean -- and sooner than you think.
Digitimes, a Taiwanese publication known best in America for its hit-and-miss Apple rumors and gossip from the Asian supply chain, has a report that Google is readying Android 5.0, codenamed "Jelly Bean", for a release as soon as Q2 2012, or April 2012.
Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich") became available in November 2011 and is hardly four months old, but Digitimes says that Google may be rushing Jelly Bean because, first, "the adoption of Android 4.0 has fallen short of original expectations," and, second, because Google wants to beat Microsoft's Windows 8 to market in order "to earn another chance to enter the notebook and netbook markets."
Adoption of Ice Cream Sandwich has indeed been slower than expected. Four months in, only one percent of Android devices are running Android 4.0, and many of the most popular phones from manufacturers like HTC, Motorola, and Samsung are not even eligible for their updates. The Motorola Droid Razr, for example, was first released in November 2011 as a premium Motorola smartphone, yet Motorola does not even have a timetable for when the Droid Razr might receive Ice Cream Sandwich.
By launching another, even more improved version of Android, Google could motivate both developers and users to quickly and fully unite behind a single Android operating system; or it could, in the words of Boy Genius Report's Zach Epstein, "push fragmentation to new heights."
Google doesn't want more fragmentation; with Ice Cream Sandwich, an operating system optimized for both tablets and smartphones, the company was hoping for a unification of Android devices that has yet to occur.
As for beating Windows 8 to market, the Digitimes article mentions that Google wants to more highly optimize Android Jelly Bean for tablet computers, possibly to compete with the more touch-friendly Windows 8 that Microsoft has planned for 2012. From Digitimes:
Android 5.0 will be further optimized for tablet PCs, while Google will also integrate its Chrome system functions to push dual-operating system designs. Brand vendors can either choose to adopt only Android 5.0 or add Android 5.0 to Windows 8 devices with the ability to switch between the two OSes without the need to shut down the computer.
Through Android 5.0, Google also wishes to earn another chance to enter the notebook and netbook markets.
Windows 8 does not have a definite release date attached, though most pundits expect it to become available this fall (A developer's preview is already available) . Microsoft has shown off Windows 8 and its touchable, swipe-able interface several times; the new operating system has been optimized for tablets and touchscreen devices and takes many cues from Microsoft's critically hailed but commercially stalled Windows Phone OS.
If Google does announce Android Jelly Bean sooner than expected, Dan Rowinski of ReadWriteWeb points out that it would probably do so at its Google I/O Developer's Conference, where Ice Cream Sandwich was announced in 2011. Google I/O 2012 is currently scheduled for late June 2012 -- whether Andy Rubin and company actually unveil Jelly Bean in San Francisco remains to be seen.
Google did not respond to a request for comment on this article.