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Android 4.0 code released as OS takeover continues

by Kristen Nicole

As promised, Google has released Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to the open source community. And as a bonus, the code encompasses the complete source code history tree, which includes Honeycomb’s line up as well. To be more specific, this is the source code for version 4.0.1 of Android, which is the version to ship on the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Nexus. This is the first time both ICS and Honeycomb have been opened to developers, and the move reiterates Chairman Eric Schmidt’s statements during his tour of Asia this month that Android would remain an open, free platform.

Android only continues to enlarge its footprint, making its way to more than half of all smartphones sold in the third quarter of 2011. According to a recent Gartner report, Google Android accounted for 52.5 percent of smartphone sales, more than doubling its share from last year. The success can partially be attributed to Samsung as well, which had significant sales for its Android-powered devices in Q3. “Android benefited from more mass-market offerings, a weaker competitive environment, and the lack of exciting new products on alternative operating systems,” Roberta Cozza, an analyst in Gartner’s European unit based in Egham, England, said in the report.

The ubiquity of Android

The environment is also ripe for Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which finally hits stores today. This dual-core Android tablet, priced under $200, is a highly anticipated consumer gadget that could, in some ways, rival the iPad. But it only comes with a couple thousand apps in the Amazon Appstore, leaving out the majority of the quarter-million apps found in the official Android Market. That doesn’t have to stop you, though. PC Magazine details how the Kindle Fire can install any app in the standard APK format, enabling you to load more than just the select apps Amazon’s pre-selected on your behalf.

But if it’s the non-Android Siri app you really desire, you may be able to get the popular iPhone app on your Android handset as well. Developer Applidium has reported that the security protocol enabling Siri to communicate with Apple servers and return information through speech recognition has been cracked. That means Android apps can be written using the actual Siri technology. While Apple could shut down any such Android app pretty quickly, the hack reveals the complex process behind Siri’s interactions, from its codex to its TCP connections. At the very least, we can all learn a little more about the AI platform that’s won the hearts of consumers and investors around the world.