Google Ice Cream Sandwich: New OS to Make Fragmentation Worse
Google Ice Cream Sandwich: the End of Gingerbread/Honeycomb
Once Android users updated past Froyo (2.2), they could either go for Gingerbread (2.3) for smartphones, or Honeycomb (3.x) for tablets. Now Google is set to launch Ice Cream Sandwich, which (theoretically) can run on any 2.3-capable device. The Ice Cream Sandwich SDK was released on October 19.
Ice Cream Sandwich itself will go live near the end of November or the beginning of December, tied to the release of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset.
However, this means that fragmentation is only going to get worse. Since Android runs on about a jillion different handsets, the upgrade path isn't as simple as a click. Migrating between OS versions is also OEM-dependent (which it should not be- Google can afford QA and testing), and some OEMs (I'm looking at you, Motorola) have a history of handset abandonment.
This leads to all sorts of hackadelic versions floating around. That said, I think Dexter's Froyo is amazing, despite a few hardware bugs. One guy managed an upgrade path for the Motorola Milestone/XT720 where Google and Motorola could not.
Andy Rubin, who runs Google's Android development, said that there is no difference between smartphone and tablet apps. Rubin must not be familiar with the concept of user interface. Has he seen how fugly Android smartphone apps look when they run on tablets?
Also, Google's track record with Android updates simply sucks, and discovery in the Google App Store is awful. It's an embarrassment, and Ice Cream Sandwich is positioned to make matters worse. Poor timing, Google, considering how well the iPhone 4S is selling right now.