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Key Lime Pie? Jelly Bean? Just give us Ice Cream Sandwich already!

by Marty Gabel

Over the weekend, a story emerged about yet another future version of Android called Key Lime Pie. Wait a second. Jelly Bean (Ice Cream Sandwich's expected successor for 2012), hasn't even been officially announced yet! So, perhaps this was a somewhat frivolous ‘leak’, but as Appolicious Advisor, Kristen Nicole, pointed out in her industry article yesterday, “with ICS still rolling-out at a snail’s pace, we wonder if Google’s just getting ahead of itself.”

Despite tales of what Jelly Bean will potentially offer (which only Google’s developers really know), we can assume that any information on Key Lime Pie will be pure speculation at this point. As far as Ice Cream Sandwich goes, which was announced all the way back in October of 2011 and saw sneak previews as far back as June, a lot of Android users are still asking to this day: where is it?

ICS still AWOL

So far, just the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the Asus Transformer Prime tablet can boast the shiny new operating system. Android users are consistently teased with “yes, it’s coming for your device this year,” but there’s very little in the way of firm dates for many Android smartphone and tablet users. Just today, more rumors emerged that Samsung Galaxy II devices in Israel may receive the much-desired Android 4.0 update starting March 15. Will the rest of the world follow soon? It most likely sepends a lot on the carriers.

Of course, you can still get a fresh taste of ICS if you want to root your device and install a custom ROM, and rumors of a new, cheaper Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Verizon (alongside a potentially intriguing Droid Incredible 4G) at the end of April, have helped fuel speculation of its impending roll-out. Ice Cream Sandwich was pretty much running on every device demonstrated at MWC this year, whether pure or enhanced with HTC’s Sense 4.0, but we’ve still not seen anything like the expected updates on the very devices we use every day. In fact, just last month, it was reported that a mere 1 percent of all Android devices are running it now.

So who’s to blame?

Is this Google’s fault? The carriers? The manufacturers? It’s hard to pin down. And with further talk in the press about upcoming Jelly Bean expectations and how it could increase fragmentation yet further, how bright is the future? It’s clear that Google has no problems unleashing a new, improved version of its Android operating system every year. In fact, it’s pretty much expected. But with carriers and manufacturers having trouble getting all their devices updated in a timely manner, is this pattern likely to continue?

Probably, yes. By the time Jelly Bean is announced by Google later in the year, our phones and tablets will slowly be getting updated with Ice Cream Sandwich. And just as we get used to it, and all the newest capabilities and UI refinement it offers, no doubt people will be clamoring for Jelly Bean.

The step up from Android 2.2 (Froyo) to Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) was fairly minor in look and feel, but it did, of course fix bugs and improve the Android experience. Android 4.0 however, is a new beast entirely with a great deal of refinement and enhancements for powerful devices. It’s a fresh, new look, sure, but there’s a lot going on under the surface which is why it’s taking a while to emerge. Still, we’ve been waiting a long time now and can only hope more Android users will finally get to experience its charms soon without necessarily shelling out for a brand new device.