Viewsonic's ViewPad 4 smartphone will be allegedly loaded with Google's as-yet-unannounced Android 2.4 operating system when it launches this spring, according to a company source.
Google did not respond to comment on this report, but there are several implications about this news, an exclusive snagged by the Pocket Lint blog Feb. 7.
For one thing, the appearance of an Android 2.4 smartphone in April casts doubt on the current Android 2.3 build. That version, which added near field communications capabilities, a gyroscope and several other utilities, is only available on Samsung's Nexus S smartphone at present.
Pocket Lint's source said Android 2.4's launch is being accelerated to make sure that dual-core applications tailored for Google's tablet-optimized Android 3.0 build will also work on single core handsets running Android 2.4. Android 2.3 does not provide this support.
Moreover, Android 2.4 will reportedly still be called Gingerbread, which Pocket Lint concluded is Google's tacit admission that it is covering up the gaffe in not enabling Android 2.3 to support dual-core applications.
However, it could very well have been simply part of Google's plan to port dual-core functionality from Android 3.0, which is launching on the Motorola Xoom later this month.
Such a move, if true, will be welcome by some developers who will want to make sure their dual-core optimized apps make it to other platforms.
However, the play also throws the spotlight right back on the Android fragmentation issue, which has been simmering for the last two years.
Developers find themselves challenged to write apps for platforms that give ground to the next build shortly after devices are released. Consumers find themselves buying handsets only to find them lacking features they desire that appear on new handsets a few months later.
Indeed, Phandroid said Google has begun building a new branch of code known internally as GRI17 to carry Honeycomb capabilities over to phones.
"However, we now understand that not to be Ice Cream," Pocket Lint said. "Our source at Viewsonic tells us that he believes Ice Cream to be 3.1, making us believe that Google intends to spilt the 2+ and 3+ OS variants going forward."
This in itself shouldn't be a surprise. Google Android user interface designer Matias Duarte has said Google is exploring some features of the Honeycomb build making it to phones.
With Android 2.3 still relatively new, and Android 3.0 about to launch, it could be that Google will pull back the curtain on its Android 2.4 at Google I/O May 10. The company unveiled Android 2.2 at Google I/O 2010.
Announced at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 6, ViewSonic's ViewPad 4, will sport a 4.1-inch WVGA touch capacitive device running on a Qualcomm MSM 8255, 1GHz chip.
The gadget, which will rival the Motorola Droid Atrix 4G, Droid Bionic, Kyocera Echo and other Android handsets this spring, will also support HD 720p video recording, playback, upload and HDMI 720p display output.
Pricing will be dependent upon carriers, ViewSonic said in its press release.