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Ice Cream Sandwich Aims To Unify Android Versions
Ice Cream Sandwich Aims To Unify Android Versions

By Barry Levine
May 10, 2011 2:06PM

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The next version of Android, named Ice Cream Sandwich, may finally unify Android versions so one OS powers multiple mobile devices. At Google I/O, Google said Android is now on 100 million devices, with 200,000 apps available from the Android Market. Google also showed hardware interaction such as Android@Home for appliances.

Like any proud parent, Google is touting the success of its offspring, Android. And, as the Android mobile operating system heads toward its third birthday, it's about to get a new nickname -- Ice Cream Sandwich.

The company noted at the Google I/O conference that, at a little more than two years old, Android is now on 100 million devices, representing more than 310 different models, with 400,000 devices activated every day. Google also pointed out that 200,000 free and paid applications are now available through its Android Market, and 4.5 billion apps have been downloaded and installed.

Android@Home for Appliances

Android's versions have long been given nicknames of desserts. For Ice Cream Sandwich, Google has high hopes: A single operating system that works across multiple mobile devices. It's expected to be released by the fourth quarter, and, among other things, is said to include technology for greater software personalization.

Other companies have been moving in the direction of one operating system for many devices. Apple's iOS, for instance, works on its iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and Hewlett-Packard's webOS runs on a similar diversity of form factors.

Google also announced Android Open Accessory, which will help developers create new hardware interaction for Android devices. As one example, Google previewed Android@Home, through which Android apps can work with consumer appliances and other devices.

Music Beta is a new service from the software giant that was unveiled Tuesday. It allows a user to upload a music collection to the cloud, and then stream songs to a computer or Android devices. Playlists are automatically kept in sync between devices, and a feature called Instant Mix can create a playlist of songs that sound right together. Music can also be played offline, since the music most recently heard gets automatically stored on an Android device.

Tungsten, Movies

Project Tungsten is a small, new Android device from Google that connects to speakers and home music systems and uses Music Beta to provide more music control over an Android@Home network. Tungsten uses Near Field Communication so that touching a CD with NFC coding on its case causes the music on that CD to start playing from the cloud-based collection.

And Google isn't forgetting about movies. The company also announced movie rentals via the Android Market, with thousands of titles starting at $1.99 each.

To help keep devices in sync with Android updates, Google also announced "a founding team of industry leaders," including many from the original Open Handset Alliance, that will be working to create and adopt guidelines for determining how quickly devices become updated after a new release of Android.

Devices from participating partners will get the most recent Android updates for a year and a half after a device is released, assuming the hardware is sufficient. The partners are Verizon Wireless, HTC, Samsung, Spring, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Motorola and AT&T.

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