Android 5.0 ‘Jelly Bean’ could push fragmentation to new heights

Despite the fact that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is only found on a handful of Android devices — Ice Cream Sandwich penetration currently sits at 1%, just as it did more than one month ago — a new report suggests Google is preparing to launch the next major build of its mobile platform as early as next quarter. Citing unnamed sources within Taiwan-based component suppliers, DigiTimes on Thursday reports that Google is likely to launch Android 5.0 (Jelly Bean) in the second quarter. While details are still limited, the report claims Android 5.0 will again focus on tablets and introduce an interesting new feature. Read on for more.

Seemingly wary about the potential threat from Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform, Google’s next-generation Android OS will feature a new dual-boot function according to DigiTimes. Jelly Bean will reportedly be optimized for tablets and it will “integrate [Google's] Chrome system functions to push dual-operating system designs.” Google is supposedly planning to encourage vendors to build dual-boot devices, which would be able to run both Android 5.0 and Windows 8.

The report also suggests Google may be eying the notebook and netbook markets with Android 5.0. Android 3.0 Honeycomb was a tablet-only OS, and Google then unified its mobile platform with Android 4.0, which is optimized for both smartphones and tablets. This new report seems to suggest Google is shifting the focus of Android 5.0 back to tablets and maybe even to notebooks in light of Chrome OS’s slow adoption.

Android 5.0 may already be facing challenges, however, as the report claims Google’s Android partners are “turning conservative about Android 5.0″ due to Android 4.0’s slow adoption thus far. A number of vendors are currently working on updating their recent devices to Android 4.0, and several Ice Cream Sandwich-powered smartphones and tablets will be unveiled later this month at Mobile World Congress.

If DigiTimes’s report turns out to be accurate, Google could be pushing Android fragmentation to new heights with Jelly Bean. Vendors like Motorola plan to roll out Android 4.0 updates for their devices over the course of the second and third quarters, and Ice Cream Sandwich may already be obsolete by the time it finally arrives on these smartphones and tablets.

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