Google Making Android Ice Cream with Gingerbread, Honeycomb

Google's Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" build for smartphones and Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" build for tablet computers will be blended for Android 2.4 "Ice Cream."

The future for Google's next Android operating system became clearer this week where at least two Google officials at different levels of the company confirmed Android's "Ice Cream" version would be one big melt of Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" and Android 3.0 "Honeycomb."

First, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in his Mobile World Congress 2011 keynote Feb. 15 that the next version of Android (likely Android 2.4, though unconfirmed) would mix Gingerbread for phones and Honeycomb for tablets.

"The two of them-notice that starts with a -G,' and the next one starts with an -H.' You can imagine the follow-on will start with an -I,' and it will be named after a dessert and it will combine capabilities of both the -G' and the -H' release," Schmidt said, according to PC Magazine.

Google Android Engineering Director Dave Burke later waxed more specific with Phone Scoop about what the new version will comprise.

Burke said Ice Cream would likely bring Honeycomb's "action bar," which provides contextual buttons to act on whatever is on the screen at the moment, to phones. The action bar is geared to supplant the "press and hold" gesture, which will be phased out, except for drag-and-drop operations.

Also, the new, graphical "Hologram" style of Honeycomb will come to phones, as will the multi-tasking application switcher that shows a small view of each application running, Burke said.

One thing's for sure: Ice Cream should solve the dual-core dilemma, as Pocket Lint noted earlier this month that ViewSonic's ViewPad 4 will run Ice Cream.

Gingerbread currently doesn't support dual-core applications, while Honeycomb does. The forthcoming Motorola Xoom and forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, among other tablets, are powered by dual-core processors.

Smartphones such as the Motorola Atrix 4G and Motorola Droid Bionic (both with Android 2.2 "Froyo"), and the eventual Gingerbread-loaded Samsung Galaxy S II are also fitted with dual-core chips, making an upgrade to Ice Cream a distinct possibility for those devices down the road.