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Android 2.4 ships in April with dual-core support, report claims

Feb 8, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Viewsonic's upcoming 4.1-inch ViewPad 4 smartphone will run Android 2.4, says an industry report. Due in April, this operating system upgrade will add dual-core support, and will have the same Gingerbread” nickname as the apparently short-lived Android 2.3, according to the U.K. website Pocket Lint.

Announced early last month at CES, ViewSonic's ViewPad 4 smartphone (pictured) will be allegedly loaded with Google's as-yet-unannounced Android 2.4 operating system when it launches in April, according to a Pocket Lint blog posting Feb. 7. (See farther below for more on the ViewPad 4.)

A previous Android 2.4 tip story from the publication posted last month had the Android 2.4 debut date set for May. Google did not respond to a request to comment on the latest report.

The appearance of an Android 2.4 smartphone in April would cast doubt on the current Android 2.3 build. That version, which added near field communications capabilities, a gyroscope, and several other utilities, is only available on the Samsung's Nexus S smartphone at present.

Pocket Lint's Viewsonic-based source said Android 2.4's launch is being accelerated to make sure dual-core applications tailored for Google's tablet-optimized Android 3.0 build will also work on single-core handsets running Android 2.4. Android 2.3 does not provide such support.

Moreover, Android 2.4 will reportedly still be called Gingerbread, which Pocket Lint concluded is Google's tacit admission that it is covering up the gaffe in not enabling Android 2.3 to support dual-core applications. However, it could very well have been simply part of Google's plan to port dual-core functionality from Android 3.0, which is launching on the Verizon-destined Motorola Xoom tablet later this month. (Some of the bloom faded from the Xoom this week when it was revealed that Best Buy will start selling the tablet on Feb. 24 for a whopping $799.)

If the Android 2.4 rumors are true, the news will be welcomed by developers who want to make sure their dual-core optimized apps make it to other platforms. However, the play also throws the spotlight right back on the Android fragmentation issue, which has been simmering for the last two years.

Developers find themselves challenged to write apps for platforms that give ground to the next build shortly after devices are released. Consumers find themselves buying handsets, only to find them lacking features they desire that appear on new handsets a few months later.

Meanwhile, Phandroid reported last week that it was informed by a source that Google has begun building a new branch of code known internally as GRI17 to carry some of Android 3.0's capabilities over to phones.

"However, we now understand that not to be Ice Cream," Pocket Lint said in response to the Phandroid story, referring apparently to GRI17. "Our source at Viewsonic tells us that he believes Ice Cream to be 3.1, making us believe that Google intends to split the 2+ and 3+ OS variants going forward."

This in itself shouldn't be a surprise. Google's Android 3.0 user interface designer Matias Duarte has said Google is exploring the idea of bringing some features of the Android 3.0 ("Honeycomb") build to phones.

With Android 2.3 still relatively new, and Android 3.0 about to launch, it could be that Google will pull back the curtain on its Android 2.4 at Google I/O May 10. (The company unveiled Android 2.2 at Google I/O 2010.)

ViewPad 4

Announced at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 6 with fairly minimal details, ViewSonic's ViewPad 4 (pictured earlier in this story), will sport a 4.1-inch WVGA capacitive screen and run on a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM 8255 chip. The ViewPad 4 is equipped with 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, and a five-megapixel camera, says ViewSonic. The phone is also said to offer an HDMI port, and support 720p video recording and playback.

The gadget joins ViewSonic's line of ViewPad devices, including the seven-inch ViewPad 7 and 10.1-inch ViewPad 10 Android tablets. It will compete with high-end Android tablets due this spring such as the Motorola Droid Atrix 4G and Droid Bionic, and the newly announced, dual-screen Kyocera Echo smartphone. Pricing will be dependent upon carriers, ViewSonic has said.

Clint Boulton is a writer for our sister publication eWEEK.

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