Dec 15 AT 6:59 PM Taylor Wimberly 54 Comments

Rumor: Honeycomb will be released as Android 2.4 in February at MWC

Everyone knows that Honeycomb is coming to Android tablets sometime next year after Andy Rubin showed off his Motorola prototype, but many of the launch details are still unclear. When will Honeycomb tablets be unveiled to the public? What’s the release date of Honeycomb for other devices? What comes after Honeycomb? I don’t have all the answers, but an old source has shared some interesting information with me.

The Rumor

Honeycomb is the name for Android 2.4, not 3.0 like we have been reporting. The target release date for Honeycomb is February, around the time of Mobile World Congress.

The Source

The source is a developer working on 3rd party software for different versions of Android. They wish to remain anonymous, but I can say they have provided me accurate information in the past and I consider them trustworthy.

One Android Insider’s take on the rumor

Not every detail of every rumor report we have posted has come true, but I would hope that after reading several of them you all know there is some truth behind the stories I tell. If you think the things reported on this site are crazy, then you should see all the stuff that people send me which never gets posted.

Who knows what motivates these guys in the industry to share information with me, but I’m not that hard to find and many reach out to me. This source did not even want me to share which company he worked for, so he has nothing to gain by this information getting out.

Everyone believed that Gingerbread was going to be Android 3.0 and then it became Android 2.3. After that everyone assumed that Honeycomb would become Android 3.0 since it had a new user interface and features for tablets.

Motorola tablet

The "$10,000" Motorola prototype tablet that Andy Rubin recently showed off.

For whatever reason, it sounds like Google is holding version 3.0 for something special. You would think they throw 3.0 out their to make a statement when the first Honeycomb tablets launch, but I guess like most big Google launches those will be sort-of beta with some new features still missing.

We are expecting that Motorola and many others will finally reveal Honeycomb products in a couple weeks at CES, so it’s believable that Mobile World Congress could be the official date when Honeycomb is released to the masses.

Next year’s MWC 2011 is loaded with keynote speakers who happen to be CEOs of companies heavily focussed on Android. Notables include Google’s Eric Schmidt, HTC’s Peter Chou, and Qualcomm’s Dr. Paul Jacobs. Most analyst agree that NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 processor is the lead platform for Honeycomb, so it will be interesting to see what HTC and Qualcomm have been working on together.

Several insiders have told me that I didn’t want to miss the next Google I/O in May 2011 like there was something extra special planned, but have shared no further details. If Google is going to make Honeycomb into Android 2.4 and release it in February, then the Android 3.0 reveal could happen on May 10, 2011.

Possible Android 3.0 versions now include Ice Cream and Jelly Bean, which we know little about. Vic Gundotra, who normally gives the big Google I/O keynote, is said to be working on the Google +1 project (formerly Google Me).

What do you guys think about this latest rumor? Do you believe Google will use Android 2.4 and save 3.0 for something special later in the year?

As always, if you know more than I do and want to correct part of this story then just contact me or leave a comment so I can update it for our readers.

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website jdog25

    Well my Nexus One and Nexus S are ready and waiting.

    • http://Website Supersonical

      I’m not sure this would be a “Nexus” friendly OS. I mostly say this because of the screen size. Honeycomb is set to be more for larger screens due to its desktop like feel. Then again, who is to say google won’t make a more friendly phone version of it. I’m sure my friend Cyanogen will give me the hookup there.

      • http://Website B

        Haven’t they already said that its optimized for tablets but has phone features too?

        • http://Website Supersonical

          Totally, because the software has been announced and everything. Mr. Rubin more or less dodged that question and for good reason.

          • http://Website Jeffster

            Did you even listen to the interview? He explained that new APIs would allow apps to be split into panel-y things. On phones, they would display one at a time, allowing you to go from one to the others. On tablets, devs could choose how they wanted them to display on larger screens.

        • masterpfa

          I’m sure the technology is available to have an OS that can be optimized for both Phone and Tablet
          @icecrush Also hoping that system dependent UI’s will become a thing of the past with future releases, I mean for Pete’s sake why can’t these be “Launcher” based UI’s so an individual can choose, then updating to 2.x hopefully wouldn’t be an issue… I digress.

          Even better news along with the Dual core announcement today, 2011 is looking like a good year

        • http://Website TareX

          Isn’t AndroidandMe the same site that wrote this EXTENSIVE piece about how the Nexus S will ship with Orion? Then later failed to redact or apologize to everyone who held off buying one of the Samsungs for this dual-core phone?

          Yeah, I’ll take this rumor with an extra minuscule pinch of salt.

  • http://Website Jonathan Harford

    There’s that slippery term “released”. Will I be able to put it on my phone on that day? Will I be able to by a Honeycomb phone on that day?

    Or will a guy on a stage just give a talk about it?

    • http://Website Steffen

      I highly doubt it will be available for your phone or in stores that day. They generally like to release the SDK and announce the features ahead of the actual launch so developers can update their apps accordingly. The only exception to this being the release of android 2.1 coinciding with the release of the Nexus One.

  • http://Website Gee

    My guess:

    Android 2.4: New Android UI, the release will target tablets, 2.3 will continue on phones.

    Android 3.0: A more robust 2.4 and now with phone support. Android now unified between the two form factors.

    • http://www.toysdiva.com PixelSlave

      I agree. Remember the days when Microsoft came out with a special edition of Windows for the Media Center. That lasted for 2 versions of Windows and is now fully integrated into Windows 7. I think Google is doing something similar.

    • http://Website KidPhat

      Andy Rubin specifically said that HoneyComb will be available for phones as well, or something to that effect.

      • http://Website jdog25

        Yeah he said that apps on Honeycomb would have new api’s so that the app could tell if it was on a phone or tablet, phone version confirmed.

        • http://Website Fahad

          That’s not quite true, android has been able to tell if it’s on a large screen device for a while now, at least since android 1.6

          • http://Website Labrat

            If you listen to Andy’s interview, he is more specific than resolution.

            He alluded that their would be new API for UI that would enable “dual pane” like in the iPad Gmail apps or for that matter, the Gmail Tablet App. And that Cellphone could still take advantage of this but would display the panes on two different screen.

            Anyway, it was something along those lines and wordage may vary it’s been 1 week+ since I saw the interview…

    • http://webosworld.com Supersonical

      I’m not sure about the whole 2.4 thing. With that said im not sure about the whole 3.0 thing either. With Honeycomb i would watch out for something different than this foolish never ending number system. Watch what happens.

  • http://Website Tito!

    I knew Honeycomb would be 2.4 :)
    its amazing, how far people exagerate with these silly numbers. 2.2 to 3.0, come on?
    Not even 2.3 is reasonable for such an assumption.

  • http://emuneee.com Evan

    My guess, like someone above said. Release Honeycomb as Android 2.4 in February with its focus being tablets. This is to make some inroads in the tablet market and battle iPad 2.

    Release the next iteration if Android at Google IO in May which will bring together support for phones and tablets.

  • http://Website sgb

    They are saving 3.0 for when they merge Chrome OS with android and then android will be launched into the big league.

    Imagine signing into you pc/browser and all your Android set up is at your disposal.

    Next step would be the powerful duel quad core devices, will become portable desktops, especially when wireless connection to monitors becomes a reality.

    Just walk up to a monitor and maybe keyboard, connect and your away. PC in your pocket.

    • http://Website Labrat

      I like that vision.

      I feel like Google could tie the cloud and their services much more tightly and in a very cohesive fashion.

      I kinda like the Youtube Remote, even though I don’t use it, because it shows the level of integration Google can get.

      To expand on your idea further I would throw Google TV into the mix. Imagine watching tv and being able to answer phone calls with video chat as if you were on your phone but entirely of IP.

      I think they need to work very hard at integrating all of their services with Gmail/Android at the centerpiece… Exciting times ahead…

  • tweetygurl

    Will the galaxy tab get this?

    • pechano

      It’s Samsung, what do you think? (lol)

  • Andr3w

    I completely doubt Honeycomb will come out anything in the first half of 2011. Google said they’re going to slow down Android updates, why would they change their mind and increase Android updates? Also, if they were planning to release Honeycomb in February, what was the point of Gingerbread then?

    • http://Website Lucian Armasu

      I think they will set them to once a year after the I/O version, so they always launch the new version at I/O. This means Icecream/3.0 will come at I/O.

      • http://Website Labrat

        Gingerbread for holidays.

        Honeycomb for… ?winter?

        Icecream for spring.

        It works except for Honeycomb…But I am reading to much in those codenames!

    • http://Website Steffen

      Yes Google did say they were going to slow down the updates, but then something happened… iPad. Now, my guess is they are doing two quick releases, Gingerbread followed by HoneyComb. Then probably a big release with 3.0 at I/O next May.

      BTW, I really hope they choose something besides Ice Cream for the codename of the version after HoneyComb. And I really wish FroYo had been called Fritter lol. ’cause I love fritters and its a fun word to say.

  • http://twitter.com/simontaghioff caffeinedependent

    Why 2.4 and not 3.0?

    Answer: Fragmentation.
    The more releases you call 2.x the less fragmented your ecosystem looks to the typical fanboy.

  • http://Website Peter

    If 2.4 is coming out in February they better hurry up and have some non Nexus phones get 2.3. Otherwise it is going to look like they don’t have a clue what they are doing.

  • http://Website Tenrou

    Seriously guys, Google unlike for example Microsoft is a developer-centric company not a marketing outfit with some code-monkeys thrown in for good measure. Hence the version numbers of Android has a strong correlation to the extent of the changes to the API. 1.6 -> 2.0.1 involved a rather extensive overhaul of the API making a relatively large portion of software written for 2.x not be backwards-compatible with Android1.x. Whereas software written for 2.x runs fine regardless of what number you substitute for ‘x’, give or take a feature or two.

    This also makes the whole nonsensical “fragmentation” argument moot as having multiple *perfectly compatible* versions of an OS hardly qualifies as fragmentation…hey I’m looking at you Windows 7 / Windows Phone 7 / Windows CE / Windows Embedded, oh and you MacOSX / iOS.

    Now if you look at Android as just another Linux OS (which it is) then yes, it’s contributing to the fragmentation between Linux distributions (and so is ChromeOS b.t.w.), but there is little to no fragmentation within Android itself.

    • http://twitter.com/simontaghioff caffeinedependent

      (go on, hit minus right now and save yourself the trouble of reading this…)

      @Tenrou I would agree with you IF compatibility between devices was more or less perfect. The problem is, it’s not.

      Speaking as someone who has developed apps for Android, we have to test on multiple real world devices and software versions as weird, device-specific bugs can and do occur. This is a serious issue from a dev POV as it increases costs and frustration.

      When you add in different screen sizes, orientations, hardware buttons, hardware keyboards, processors etc. to this mix, this is where the cries of ‘fragmentation’ come from.

  • PhineasJW

    If Honeycomb is a complete re-make of the OS, how can it be given a ‘minor’ bump to 2.4?

    I don’t see it.

    I think it’ll be 3.0 and still be released in the next 3-6 months to coincide with the 2011 tablet explosion.

    • http://Website Click here to cancel school

      they will call it 2.999

  • http://Website kye

    I think this is fake news deliberately given to androidandme.com to de-credit Taylor on purpose. My reasoning for this is that because he has been getting pretty hot on insider info, someone is trying to derail him.

    just a hunch.

  • http://www.gunnarlium.com/ Gunnar Lium

    I actually find the discussion about version numbers to be as relevant as the discussion about fragmentation. I do believe that Honeycomb will be available for phones, and that some new major version might be released at Google I/O. Google were supposed to slow the recycle down to one major version per year, so for you versionnumber-fundamentalists, I would sense to hold 3.0 back for Google I/O.

    • http://Website Gee

      If Honeycomb is released for phones in Feb then it makes very little sense to have released 2.3 at all. What is that? A 1 and half month lifespan? Just doesn’t make sense.

      I don’t know how valid this source is but it makes sense. The iPad has defined the market and basically IS the tablet market even with all the other tablets currently available. Once the iPad 2 is released with more RAM, better CPU/GPU, better display, cameras, updated OS, etc. it’s game over unless Google responds then and there. I bet that they pooled all their resources into tablet software development (which explains why 2.3 looks like butt compared to Froyo and especially the little we’ve seen of Honeycomb) and we’ll see a tablet only release of the “new Android.” The phones will come later. Probably during the late spring – summer.

      So I think that early 2011 release of Honeycomb will hold true and it’ll only be a tablet only release initially with Ice Cream porting the new Android over to phones.

  • http://Website Todd

    Well, since you don’t want to run your tablet app on a phone, there should be two trunks for Android, phone and tablet, the tablet trunk being able to run the phone apps with no problem. Keep the desert name for the phone trunk and give the tablet trunk a fruit or vegetable name. And if Android ever finds its way to the desktop, then gave that version the name of a main course.

    • http://Website Todd

      Forgot, the two trunks would carry the same x.x number and would the names would start with the same letter. So Gingerbread and grapes.

  • http://www.codblackopsnews.com/ Nate

    I think it should be called Android 3.0 – Sweet Sassy Molassy

  • http://Website sha

    After the failed rumor on the dual core Nexus S, I would take these with a pinch of salt

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Who says that was a failed rumor? Samsung was testing a dual-core phone with the Tegra 2 processor. It just hasn’t been released yet.

      • http://Website Dave

        we know that, Taylor. It’s long been known that all the top tier manufacturers are moving to dual core in 2011.

        This was your headline:

        “Rumor: The first Nexus S was scrapped, new dual-core version already in testing”

        I’m pretty sure that qualifies as a failed rumour! Everybody gets one from time to time. No need to get defensive about it.

        Also, has the Tegra 2 been confirmed for that? My understanding was that they would be using the Orion.

  • http://Website Mark

    I think 3.0 is going to be researved for full Google TV / Chrome OS integration. Just like the Guy who pointed out a true mobile PC in your pocket. I think a mobile experience which integrates nearly seemlessly with your TV, your phone , your tablet and your computer is what Google is going for with 3.0. They have been leading towards that since the lanuch of Google TV and now honeycomb is adding the tablet and Chrome OS is getting ready as well.

  • http://Website icecrush

    Just imagine someone reading this article and still stuck on 1.6

    • http://Website sully

      I’m on 1.5 still

  • http://pinoydroid.net Unwired

    Hand down to Andy Rubin…

    On the topic, it seems that google are releasing the new versions so fast.

  • http://Website Tony

    I think the next version will be 2.4. I’m so excited for the blackberry, Motorola, LG, Acer, and HTC tablets next year!!! :-)

  • http://Website taco

    before they talk about 2.4, they should at least updates many of the phones to at least 2.2! im still waiting for the official update for the epic! (i have the hero now but i wanna buy the epic already updated)

  • http://Website Andrea Walters

    My iPhone is ready for iOS 5. Bring it on, Stevie!!!!

    • http://Website Andy Rubin

      Apple is moving forward to 5.0, while Android is stuck at 2.4. Google will never catch up!

  • qcom

    I personally can’t wait for some tablet love to come to Android.

    I was playing with the current Galaxy Tab in a Best Buy recently and I actually kind of liked the overall experience.

    Of course, I would have much rather had a stock OS rather than Touchwiz crap, but that’s all right for the time being.

    But, I think a new Galaxy Tab (or other newer devices) running this version of Android, made for Tablets, could really be something awesome.

    I personally think this could be the real competition for the iPad.

    No matter what, I’m super excited for CES and then MWC!! Maybe the holidays should just be moved to March?

  • http://bassmadrigal.com bassmadrigal

    I think that 2.3 is the version that is designed for the phones in mind. They have backend support for more tablets, but i think 2.4 is mainly designed to get more features in for tablets. But since tablets aren’t as big of a deal right now as the phones, why not get the phone versions (and the Nexus S) out there… especially the Nexus S in time for the holidays. 2.0 to 2.1 wasn’t a huge jump… they even kept the same codename. 2.4 probably won’t make much of a difference for phones, but I don’t think it makes sense for google to fragment phones and tablets between 2.3 and 2.4, so 2.4 would be 2.3 with the extra features for the tablets. Thus it will work the same on phones, and better on tablets (vs 2.3).

    And 3.0 makes sense for Google I/O…

    As for the announcement to the release of the code, Apple is very similar. I think they announced iOS 4 in January, but didn’t make it available until early summer… From the time google announced FroYo to the time the code was released to AOSP was slightly over a month. Granted, it has taken forever for handsets to catch up, but that is the manufacturers fault, not googles. If they would quit putting in all their crap, it would be much easier to update the software for each phone.

    Anyway, these are my opinions… just my own speculation.

  • http://Website Vaughn

    when its released will it only be on the the new tablets so I would have to buy a whole new tablet to the the new 2.4 or will it be an update so I can keep my current tablet?

  • Mighty_O

    YOU WERE WRONG!!! lol

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