Google used a blog post today to remind developers that the next version of the Android OS is going to be released soon, and some of them need to take steps to ensure their apps will run on what’s been dubbed “Ice Cream Sandwich”.
The stated goal of this upcoming version is the re-unite the smartphone and tablet versions of this operating system. Android OS 2.x “Gingerbread” is for smartphones, while Android OS 3.x “Honeycomb” was designed only for tablets. ICS, in the words of Google’s Scott Main, is going to “support big screens, small screens, and everything in between. This is the way Android will stay from now on: the same version runs on all screen sizes.”
According to Main, software designed to run on smartphones will have no problems with ICS. When one of these apps is run on the larger screen of a tablet it will expand to fill the display.
However, some developers have created Honeycomb apps that require a large screen. If one of these is run on an ICS-based smartphone, there will be problems. Google is urging these developers to modify their software so that it supports both smartphones and tablets. As Main says, “you’ll significantly increase the user-base for your app. Using a single APK [Android Package] for all devices also simplifies your updating and publishing process and makes it easier for users to identify your app.”
He recommends coders break the user interface for their software into separate frames. On a smartphone, these can be shown one at a time, while on a tablet multiple frames can be displayed.
Main also used the blog post to explain to developers how to make their apps run only on a tablet, if that is their preference.
Not Too Far Away
This post did not say when Android Ice Cream Sandwich is going to be released, but Google’s CEO said recently that the debut is going to be in October or November. It will supposedly launch running on the Samsung Nexus Prime with all the top U.S. carriers, though Verizon may re-name its version the Samsung Droid Prime.
According to information that leaked out of Samsung, this model will have only a single Home button — the Back, Menu, and Search buttons are being left off. This could indicate that’s how all ICS-based devices will be designed. However, there’s remarkably little hard information available about this upcoming version, considering the launch is happening so soon.