What a difference a doodle makes. The long standing tradition of the Google doodle being changed to reflect something topical has Android fans excited right now - it's showing an ice cream sundae, and as it's followers know that's the code name for the next release after the current one, Honeycomb (Android 3.0). Barely a few months old itself, and since there are only a handful of devices out there running it, a new version must be months away, and theres much speculation around its name even being "Ice Cream" let alone Android 4.0 - it's more likely either Android 2.4 or 3.1 going by these timescales. That's the same way things played out when Eclair (Android 2.0) was succeeded by Froyo (Android 2.1).

As it happens, the doodle appeared at the 119th anniversary of the first Ice Cream Sundae, but that won't stop the rumour mill for a second. The latest release for handsets is 2.2, aka Gingerbread, whilst the tablet line is on 3.0, Honeycomb. So given no clue regarding how these are to be extended we could be looking at 2.4 or 3.1, with 4.0 most likely being reserved for a much more significant release - unification when handset hardware can handle it perhaps?

 

Ice Cream Doodle

 

Recently, Google has been signalling its intention to get a grip of the Android elephant in the room - fragmentation. Whilst an open OS is very welcome by the manufacturers, they see this as being a bad thing unless they are seen to differentiate from their competitors somehow, and this means, with software, adding their own UI layer an apps to it. If they didn't, every Android handset would look identical apart from the hardware. However, users become seriously frustrated when they see new versions of Android released and their handsets aren't running it - especially if their competitors are. Google sees this as a bad reflection on Android - its the biggest stick the closes OS gang uses to beat them with. There's naturally, therefore, some speculation that this tightening of the customisation will also fall in line with future Android versions - somehow.

Eric Schmidt said that Ice Cream would merge Gingerbread and Honeycomb - and when discussing future Android versions you should also bear in mind Google TV. At Google I/O in May much more on this is expected to be announced, but if true a single code base for handsets, tablets and TV would be awesome - the manufacturers would only have one code base to update, apps would be portable across all 3 and update cycles would synchronise like nothing seen before.

Now that's pretty yummy indeed.