The next Android operating system for smartphones will include some features that were previously exclusive to Android tablets, Google announced Tuesday.
Dubbed “Ice Cream Sandwich,” the platform will debut some time in the fourth quarter of 2011, Google officials said during the company’s I/O developer conference.
“We want one OS that runs everywhere,” Android engineer Mike Claren said at the conference.
Ice Cream Sandwich-powered smartphones will ship with enhancements introduced in Android Honeycomb, Google’s operating system for tablets. Some of these new features include a holographic user interface, enhanced multitasking abilities and the ability to connect the smartphone with a USB device, such as a mouse or an Xbox controller.
The release of Ice Cream Sandwich has been highly anticipated by the Android developer community. Android version 3.0 (Honeycomb) first debuted on Motorola’s Xoom tablet in February, touting a host of enhancements and features new to the Android platform. Developers have been waiting for Google to release the Honeycomb source code, in order to bring some of these features to smartphones.
So far, Google has refused to do so. After a long period of silence and a whole lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt, Google issued a statement to members of the press in March: “While we’re excited to offer these new features to Android tablets, we have more work to do before we can deliver them to other device types including phones. Until then, we’ve decided not to release Honeycomb to open source.”