Next version of Android might target tablets and netbooks more than smartphones.
Google is already preparing the next version of Android, believed to be called Jelly Bean. Android 5.0 will follow its dessert-themed predecessors in the alphabetical sequence, starting with the letter J. This new operating system, which could arrive as soon as the second quarter of the year, won't target smartphones.
Instead, supply chain sources indicate that Google is looking to build Chrome OS functionality into Android for dual-boot tablets and netbooks.
Google could be looking at Android 5.0 Jelly Bean as a way to resurrect its notebook/netbook ambitions. Google already has a netbook OS, called Chrome, but it has failed to really grab any share. It is available in a handful of inexpensive netbooks from manufacturers such as Samsung.
Chrome OS banks heavily on the Chrome browser and Google's HTML5 prowess. Despite the ease with which Chromebooks can surf the net, they are a bit light on features when it comes to heavy-duty computing needs. They do integrate well with Google's existing online services, though, such as Gmail, Calendar, Documents, Maps, Music, and more.
But Android 5.0 wouldn't just target Google's own existing platforms. It is also looking to push the dual-boot idea to Windows 8 hybrids, allowing manufacturers to include both Android 5.0 and Windows 8 in a single device. Supply-side sources note that the idea is to allow users to hot-swap between Android and Windows--skipping the reboot.
Such a device could switch between the web-focused Android system for lighter use scenarios (and probably better battery performance) and the more robust, business-capable Windows ecosystem.
It is worth noting, however, that the hardware requirements for Windows 8 would prevent users from installing a second OS on ARM-based PCs due to a locked Secure Boot system. What's not known is if Microsoft's manufacturing partners would have permission to ignore that when designing machines.
What's interesting is that no mention of smartphones is made with respect to Android 5.0. Google specifically designed Android 4.0 to combine the best features of Android 3.2 with Android 2.3 and create a master platform that works equally well on smartphones and tablets. So far, only one Android 4.0 smartphone is available, though Android 4.0 tablets are expected to arrive soon. Android 4.0 has barely had a chance to get a foothold in the market.
The timing is also a bit curious. This year, Google pushed its I/O developers conference back by six weeks, to the end of June rather than the middle of May. Does Google need this extra six weeks to finish work on products that will be announced at I/O?
I guess we'll find out in June.
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