a keynote address where he revealed the future of the Android mobile operating system. Currently, there are two distinct versions of Android: Android 2.3, code-named "Gingerbread" for smartphones and a newer, tablet-optimized version of Android 3.0 called "Honeycomb." Schmidt says that the two separate versions will be merged in the next release of Android.At this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google's former CEO, now Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt delivered
The next version of Android is expected to be called "Ice Cream" or perhaps "Ice Cream Sandwich," but Schmidt did not confirm the naming. All he said was that the follow-up release will start with an "I" and will be named after a dessert.
This information came up during the Q&A session at the end of his keynote as Schmidt took questions from the audience. In this case, the audience member had asked for clarity on the many different variations of Google's operating systems - not just Android, but also Chrome OS, Google's browser-based desktop OS.
"I apologize for the confusion," said Schmidt in response to the question. He blamed the speed of innovation at Google for the causing the situation - different teams were working on the different versions of these operating systems at the same time.
Chrome OS Will Also Merge with Android, Says Schmidt
After responding that the two concurrent versions of Android would be merged in the next release, Schmidt also offhandedly mentioned that Chrome OS would eventually be merged with Android, too.
In explaining the differences between Android and Chrome OS, Schmidt put it simply: "Chrome OS is unrelated to mobile phones. Chrome OS is for netbooks and PCs." However, said Schmidt, "over time, we're working on merging them."
Whether or not Google will actually be able to accomplish such a feat is unknown, but it's interesting to hear that its vision is to have just one operating system for all devices - desktops, notebooks, netbooks, tablets, TVs, mobile phones and more.
Details on Ice Cream
In the nearer future, what can we expect from the combined versions of Gingerbread and Honeycomb? According to an interview between PhoneScoop and Google Android Engineering Director Dave Burke, Ice Cream will bring Honeycomb's "Action Bar" to Gingerbread. This is the bar that brings the contextual, app-specific buttons to the top of the screen.
Burke also said that Honeycomb's "System Bar" (the bar at the bottom) may not come to phones, but would remain a tablet-only feature. The hologram-esque visual styling found in Honeycomb will arrive in Ice Cream, though, as will Honeycomb's multi-tasking app switcher functionality.