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Google has begun the release of Android 4.0 (a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich) source code into the wild.

What happens to it now is everybody’s business. You can download it right this second by following these instructions.

Googler Jean-Baptiste Queru notes in a Google Groups discussion, “Since this is a large push, please be aware that it will take some time to complete. If you sync before it’s done, you’ll get an incomplete copy that you won’t be able to use, so please wait for us to give the all-clear before you sync.”

UPDATE: Queru has stated on his Google+ page that it’s alright to sync now.

Why so large?

Queru goes on to note that this particular release will encompass “the full history of the Android source code tree, which naturally includes all the source code for the Honeycomb releases.”

Honeycomb had previously stuck out as the only closed-source Android release; apparently, the tablet-only OS was being used for some shade-tree hacking that the company found inelegant, and Google decided to exercise a bit more control over that release until the unifying Ice Cream Sandwich was revealed.

The code you’ll be able to download soon is the source code for Android version 4.0.1, the same version that users will have in their hands when the Galaxy Nexus ships out. The Galaxy Nexus is the lead device for Ice Cream Sandwich. In the Android 4.0.1 source tree, the device build target “full_maguro” can be used to build a system image for Galaxy Nexus.

Queru said that other build configurations for other devices will be available at a later date.

Ice Cream Sandwich is the latest Android OS, and it’s primarily known for two things: uniting the disparate worlds of different forks for different devices, and featuring a beautiful new design language that both consumers and app makers are sure to approve. Ice Cream Sandwich even comes with its own gorgeous, house-made typeface, Roboto.

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