It seems like Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is just now starting to show up on smartphones and tablets… and already techies are taking about the next two versions of Android, apparently codenamed ‘Jelly Bean’ and ‘Key Lime Pie.’ So what’s the deal with a new versions, and why the funny names?
Well, first lets tackle the names. Google started the tradition with the first official release of Android, version 1.5, by naming it Cupcake. From there, they continued with an alphabetical list of sweet names. After Cupcake was version 1.6, Donut. Then version 2.0, Éclair. Then version 2.2, Froyo (Frozen Yogurt). Version 2.3 was named Gingerbread. Version 3 was Honeycomb. Then came the most recent version, 4.0, with the name Ice Cream Sandwich.
The next named version is rumored to be calle Jelly Bean – but Jelly Bean might not get much respect, as rumors about the version after that are already heavy in the air. The name, two generations into the future from the current, is expected to be Key Lime Pie.
So why are we jumping ahead two generations when many of us are still waiting for Ice Cream Sandwich to be updated on our devices?
While Google continues developing (and releasing) updates, manufacturers must take the basic Android OS and adapt it to their devices. Often they also include their own layer of software on top of Android to differentiate themselves from their competition. So the release of a new version of Android is, in essence, a release to the manufacturers and developers. The manufacturers then take the basic Android OS and adapt it to their devices. There are many older devices that will never be updated to the latest in Android, because eventually the cost to benefit ratio for the company to adapt Android to older devices is, at times, unacceptable.
So while the tech establishment may be talking about future versions of Android, such as Jelly Bean and Key Lime Pie (names unconfirmed by Google), the actual versions that are in wide use will continue to be older versions that have been redesigned for their particular devices.