If you thought the successor to Android 2.3 (codenamed Gingerbread) was simply Android 3.0 (codenamed Honeycomb), you were hoping for something much too straightforward. Pictures of an early build of Android 2.4 running on the newly-announced Sony Xperia Arc have been posted by the Dutch site Tweakers.

In other words, Sony's promise of Gingerbread on the new Xperia Arc didn't exactly mean Android 2.3. It's possible that version 2.4 is merely a minor improvement over Android 2.3, adding fixes and extra features that Google didn't manage to finish in time for Gingerbread's deadline. Could codename Gingerbread encompass versions 2.3 and 2.4 much like how versions 2.0 and 2.1 were both under the codename Éclair?

In either case, Android 2.4 reportedly brings a noticeable speed increase over Android 2.3, including no delays when switching between windows and apps. There are also new animations when moving shortcuts and widgets around the homescreen, a software-based noise reduction option for voice calls, and references to video chat in the menus.

This news further begs the question about whether we're in the process of seeing a split occurring. Will Google try to have companies use Android 2.x for smartphones and Android 3.x for tablets or will we see everyone get pushed to Android 3.x eventually?