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Google Android Fuses Tablet and Phone OS

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Ice Cream Sandwich fuses Honeycomb cream with Mobile OS’ dough.

At the moment, Android tablets run on a separate operating system to droid phones, primarily differentiated by their user interfaces. Google intend on bridging this gap with the new version, saying they want “one OS everywhere.”

They’re after a mobile experience that allows users to pick up any kind of device running its software and instantly recognise it, navigating tablets the way they do phones, and vice versa.

The hybrid OS was expected to be released in 2012, but techradar.com report the software could be hitting devices as soon as October 2011.

Ice Cream Sandwich (certainly a mouthful) will bring the honeycomb tablet interface to mobile devices. Mobile users will inherit several updates from the move, including an updated app launcher, a holographic UI, the revered multi-tasking panel and new, aesthetic home-screen widgets.

Google have recognised this project is its “most ambitious release to date,” and will bridge the gap between the two OS versions in a way that optimises the running hardware. To do so, the company will have to make use of limited mobile screen space intelligently, with most honeycomb tablets sporting screens a whole 6 inches bigger than high end droid phones.

Also benefiting the tablets and mobiles is peripheral connectivity, with compatibility between mice, keyboards and gaming controllers being factored into the next version.

Acknowledging how important it is to have apps on tablets and phones alike, Google will release a new set of APIs that will help developers scale applications across different sized Android screens. By giving developers these tools, it also aids in harvesting a rich application market for different kinds of devices, enriching the droid experience across tablets and phones.

Face detection will also feature a prominent role in the new version, with 3D head-tracking being used by front facing cameras to enhance video calls. It’s destined to be used in other areas of the OS, seeing Google recently acquired PittPatt research, a company with facial recognition its speciality.

Read Google Acquires Facial Recognition Firm But Opposes Facebook HERE

Unlike its Honeycomb version, Google intend on making Ice Cream Sandwich fully open source, according to the company’s senior vice president of mobiles, Andy Rubin.

“It’s an open invitation; there’s no reason not to have everybody in [The Open Handset Alliance] – but I want to hit the ground running, I don’t want to take a lot of time on building a list of names.”

With mobile hardware advancing rapidly, Google’s Android OS has a fragmented market, with older, less capable devices running dated Android versions. In an attempt to unify software, Google has released a schedule for software updates.

With smartphones dominating current sales, there’s bound to be many phones (and tablets) that will have the hardware to handle Ice Cream Sandwich helping the software hit devices sooner.