Rumour: Android 2.4 'Ice Cream' launch planned

While Android 3.0 'Honeycomb,' the first version of Google's popular open-source mobile platform to be specifically designed for tablet devices, isn't even out yet, rumours abound of a secretive new release: Android 2.4 'Ice Cream.'

The rumours began when eagle-eyed attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show got their hands on Sony Ericsson's latest Android handset, the Xperia Arc - and snapped pictures of it claiming to be running Android version 2.4, an as-yet unannounced and unnamed version of the Linux-based mobile operating system.

Although Sony Ericsson has denied that its Xperia Arc will ship with anything other than Android 2.3 'Gingerbread' - explaining on its official product blog that the handsets displaying an Android version of 2.4 were pre-production samples that were misconfigured ahead of being shipped to CES for display - that hasn't stopped rumours spreading that Google has a new version of Android waiting in the wings - 'Ice Cream.'

To explain the increment in alphabetical codename - from H for 'Honeycomb' to I for 'Ice Cream' - while the version number drops, those who subscribe to the rumour claim that Google is planning to split Android development into two channels: versions on the 3.x channel will be specifically for tablets, and not available for smartphone use, while those in the 2.x channel will be for smartphones and lower-end tablet devices.

Although the rumour makes a certain amount of sense, it's hard to imagine Google deciding to split Android in such a way - especially given the flak the company has received over the perceived fragmentation of the Android ecosystem.

With Sony Ericsson denying any knowledge of an Android version beyond 2.3, and Google keeping its cards close to its chest, only time will tell if the rumours of an Android 2.4 'Ice Cream' prove true.