There's talk once again that Android 2.4 is simply a minor bump to Android 2.3, that it will work with Android 3.0 (codenamed Honeycomb) apps, and that it should arrive in April 2011. Those that think this is an early April Fools' joke will be quick to point out that this conflicts with a previous rumor that says Android 2.4 will be codenamed Ice Cream (Sandwich) and that it will be ship this summer.
The news comes from Pocket-Lint, which spoke to Viewsonic about the company's recently announced ViewPad 4. The smartphone will feature a 4.1-inch screen, a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera, Bluetooth 2.1, 802.11 b/g/n wireless connectivity, Flash 10.1, and also have HD 720p video recording, playback, upload, and a mini-HDMI 720p display output. Most importantly, the device will come with Android 2.4 when it launches in two months:
According to our source, the release date of version 2.4 has been brought forward to ensure that dual-core apps designed for Honeycomb (v3.0) will be able to work with single-core devices running v2.4. Currently, our man on the inside says that's not possible with version 2.3 (Gingerbread) hence the need to push to the next iteration and version number, but not change the name. It's most likely to be one of the main reasons we've yet to see any major manufacturer gunning to get Android 2.3 handsets out there. "It's to ensure compatibility with dual-core apps," our agent explains before adding that "it will still be called Gingerbread."
Of course, we speculated this might happen last month, when the first screenshots of Android 2.4 leaked running on the newly-announced Sony Xperia Arc. Codename Gingerbread may thus encompass versions 2.3 and 2.4 much like how versions 2.0 and 2.1 were both under codename Éclair. This new information also aligns with rumors that Google may soon be releasing a Nexus S with Android 2.4.
It appears that either Android 2.5 or Android 3.1 will be codenamed Ice Cream (Sandwich) or maybe, the original rumor from four months ago was right all along: Android 4.0 is where it's at. In either case, Google needs to clearly outline its branching strategy for Android: will the split of smartphone (Android 2.x) and tablet (Android 3.x) remain indefinitely?