Android ‘Honeycomb’ Really Version 2.4 and Coming in February?

The Android LogoGoogle’s brand-new 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ update to its smart phone operating system—Android—might be overshadowed by a release of Android 2.4 ‘Honeycomb’ as early as February next year. Android Honeycomb has been widely expected to release as version 3.0, not 2.4. The update improves the Android platform to better support devices like tablets that have larger screens than regular smart phones. Android’s new rumored release date of February and version number come courtesy of a source that tipped off Android and Me this week. The unnamed source is a software developer currently working on applications for multiple versions of Google Android and the website believes that they are “trustworthy.” Take this with some skepticism but Android 2.3 Gingerbread was supposed to be released originally as version 3.0. In fact, Android Honeycomb was originally slated as version 3.5.

The natural assumption for Google choosing a date in February is that the company plans to announce the release of Honeycomb at the 2011 Mobile World Congress. Since Motorola and numerous other manufacturers are working on Android powered tablets that will ultimately run Android Honeycomb, Google knows that it needs to get the new version out quickly. The Consumer Electronics Show 2011 is being held January 6th through 9th and is the expected event for Motorola and others to announce their new tablets. Long story short, with the second generation of Android tablets almost ready to go, Google will make sure that Android Honeycomb is ready. Otherwise, neither Google nor its partnered manufacturers will have a strong response to Apple’s wildly popular iPad tablet, much less the certainly coming iPad 2 that is expected to go on sale in early 2011.

Google knows that Android Honeycomb is essential to the growth of the operating system onto tablets. Tablets after all, are expected to slowly start snagging what would other be sales of netbooks and laptops. Android 2.3 Gingerbread has not yet been released on any smart phones besides the Nexus S, Google’s developer phone for the operating system that it developed with Samsung—the Nexus S’s manufacturer. Since Android Honeycomb will run on both tablets and smartphones, manufacturers and carriers will have the hard choice of deciding to either update their phones to Gingerbread and then Honeycomb or just skip Gingerbread altogether and go straight to Honeycomb. That is assuming of course that the currently available Android phones on the market will be updated at all. Samsung—the company with the very first Android Gingerbread powered smartphone—has still not yet updated many of its Galaxy S series phones to Android 2.2 Froyo, even though it plans to.

Will Android Honeycomb really end up as version 2.4? Will this just further complicate development for app makers?

Let me know your opinion in the comments below.

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