The latest version of Android is now compatible with Intel-based handsets -- if you can find one, that is. The Santa Clara chip giant is just getting started in the smartphone market, with devices available from select carriers in India, France, the UK and China. Nevertheless getting Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” support is a notable feat considering very few smartphones have been updated to or launched with this version.
Intel has yet to confirm when the update will roll out to the few Intel handsets on the market. Currently, most of these devices are running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which was released in December 2010 and is still the most widely used version of the mobile OS, and are powered by a 1.6GHz Atom Z2460 (Medfield) processor.
It’s possible we’ll see the x86-friendly version of Jelly Bean pre-loaded on Motorola’s RAZR M smartphone, expected to launch in London next week, but neither company has made any announcements yet.
Moving forward Intel has a dual-core Medfield chip coming out later this year and phones based on the chip will be out early next year. Some Android apps may not play well with x86 chips unless they’re ported to run on Intel devices, but Intel promises 90% of the time apps will be compatible.
Intel has has been synonymous with the PC industry for years but so far is struggling to break into the mobile segment while ARM licensees like Qualcomm and Nvidia have taken all the glory. It's still too early to tell if their efforts will gain any traction in the short and mid-term but if anyone is capable of pulling it off, it’s likely Intel.