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6/17/2013
08:51 AM
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Android 5.0: What To Expect

Next version of Google's smartphone and tablet OS debuts this fall, along with new Nexus-branded smartphones.

Google I/O: 10 Key Developments
Google I/O: 10 Key Developments
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Google has been mum on when it might debut a new version of its wildly popular Android platform. News on the Android update front was expected to arrive during last month's Google I/O developer event, but it never showed up. At this point, the next iteration of Android likely won't show its face until October.

Some of the key changes that will arrive with the next-generation platform, called Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, will include optimization for entry-level devices. Google has already done this to some degree with Project Butter, an optimization effort that was baked into Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It will take things much further, however, with Key Lime Pie so that Android devices won't necessarily require dual-core processors and 1 GB of RAM. This will allow hardware makers to create smartphones that have an even lower cost than they do today, which will help further Android's push into emerging markets.

Today's best devices have dual- and quad-core processors in order to power the high-end features such as 1080p HD displays and 1080p HD video capture. These require a significant amount of processing oomph.

The timing of Key Lime Pie's arrival suggests that Google has slowed down the development of Android to one major release per year. Google unveiled Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in October 2011 and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean in October 2012. Releasing Android 5.0 in October 2013 only makes sense.

[ Apple also has a new mobile OS in the works for this fall. See Apple iOS 7's Dramatic Design: Visual Tour. ]

Google may not have showed off a new version of Android at I/O, but it did update many of the core apps and features, such as Gmail and Google Play Services. One could say Google updated Android without actually updating it.

The timing also plays well with Google's annual release of Nexus-branded smartphones. When Google introduced Android 4.2 Jelly Bean in October 2012, it also debuted the Nexus 4. Developers and fans alike will be anxious to learn about new Nexus-branded hardware come the fall. It is possible that Motorola will play a role in this year's Nexus device, considering comments made by Google's Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and Motorola's Dennis Woodside. All three have suggested that Motorola's new hardware will be impressive.

We won't have to wait much longer for a new Nexus tablet, however. Signs over the last few months have pointed to a July release of a new Nexus 7 tablet come July. The new version of this low-cost tablet is expected to have a better display and dual cameras, among other updates and improvements. Google will also begin selling stock Android versions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 through the Google Play Store later this month.

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