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With Google positioning Android 3.0, also known as Honeycomb, as a tablet-only operating system, it’s been unclear when similar upgrades will make their way to phones. Today while on stage at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Google’s Eric Schmidt shed some light on the matter.

Schmidt said that the next version of Android, which will “start with an I [and] be named after a dessert”, will combine the current Gingerbread release for phones (Android version 2.3 and 2.4) with Honeycomb for tablets (version 3.0) into a single OS. That means we shouldn’t expect to see Honeycomb running on phones anytime soon, and that Ice Cream will be the next major Android update for phones.

Ice Cream, which will likely be labeled Android 3.1, will bring the exciting interface improvements to phones that Google has been showing off for Honeycomb tablets.

Schmidt also said that Android updates are on a “six month cycle” — but that doesn’t really tell us much. Google launched Android 2.3 Gingerbread in December when it announced the Nexus S, but that update hasn’t yet made it to any other devices. Now there’s word that Android 2.4 will take the place of the 2.3 update in April and that it will also be called Gingerbread. Despite whatever cycle Google is working on, Android updates have traditionally taken a while to make their way to consumers — due either to Google’s own rollout issues or to delays from phone manufacturers and carriers.

The big difference with 2.4 is that it will have support for apps that will eventually run on Honeycomb. Basically, it’s a way for developers to make sure their apps run on Android 3.0 for tablets, and eventually for Ice Cream on phones.

Via Engadget

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