When Andy Rubin talks about Android, you better take notes because he is the godfather of Google’s mobile OS and he spills the goods each time. At last night’s D: Dive Into Mobile conference he showed off an unannounced Motorola tablet running Honeycomb and shared some details about how his team was working on the next version of Android.
First Andy explained how others generally develop a new operating system. “I’ve worked at companies where they generically try to do software, and this is the way Microsoft used to work with Windows. They very generically build the next version of Windows then expect it to work on all PCs.”
Android is open source software, but Google takes an approach similar to Apple where they pick their partners and then build a lead device to develop their next OS release on. On the topic of developing Honeycomb, Mr. Rubin disclosed how Google is planning the next release of Android, “What we do is pick our partners, a semiconductor partner, an operator, and an OEM and then combine them all together. This is the device that engineers have on their desk when they come in the morning.”
Thanks to comments from Mr. Rubin and the CEOs of their partners, we think we have a pretty good idea of the team that Google has selected for their big Honeycomb launch. The semiconductor partner is NVIDIA, the operator is Verizon, and the OEM is Motorola.
We still don’t know what the first Honeycomb tablet will be called, but rumored names include the Motorola Stingray, Everest, and Motopad. The device will feature a 10 inch display, dual-core 1 GHz Tegra 2 processor, dual-cameras, and support for Verizon’s 4G LTE network.
Honeycomb will eventually be available on other tablet CPUs and even smartphones, but the Motorola tablet on Verizon will be the lead device just like the Nexus S was the lead device for Android 2.3.
The release date of Honeycomb is still a mystery, but it’s not that far away. We’ve already seen a video of the Motorola tablet running it and there are three big trade shows coming up in early Q1. My guess is we will see some more Honeycomb tablets announced at CES in January, Google might release Honeycomb around Mobile World Congress in February, and we should have products in stores near the time of CTIA in March.
Google took their sweet time developing a tablet-friendly version of Android, but we think Honeycomb devices will definitely be worth the wait. As NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun put it, “They have to be absolutely groundbreaking or why would anybody come to buy them.”