Froyo might be the last word for Android smartphones, but Google denies it’s meant as a tablet OS, adding fuel to rumors that we’ll be seeing Honeycomb or Gingerbread-enabled tablets competing against the iPad sometime soon.
At least one Google () executive has been saying publicly that the company doesn’t see the most recent iteration of the Android () operating system or the Android Market () as entirely appropriate for tablets, suggesting that tablet-specific OSes might be forking from the Android family in the near future.
Hugo Barra is Google’s director of products for mobile. In recent comments to TechRadar, he said that while the company has seen Android 2.2 (which, like the rest of Android’s distributions, is open-sourced and free for anyone to download) running on tablets, that isn’t one of the OS’s intended purposes.
“Froyo is not optimised for use on tablets,” said Barra. “The way Android Market works is not going to be available on devices that don’t allow applications to run correctly. Which devices do and which don’t will be unit-specific… If you want Android Market on that platform [a tablet running Froyo], the apps just wouldn’t run, it is just not designed for that form factor.”
He continued to say that Google is working on a different UX for a tablet-friendly Android Market. We would infer that, unlike the less-than experience of the first Android devices via-a-vis the iPhone, many of the first Android tablets could be more competitive with the currently market-leading iPad, thanks in large part to an operating system that’s optimized for the full breadth of tablet hardware functionality.
So, what could these mysterious operating systems be, and how soon could we see them? Will they be available on the already-released Dell StreakSamsung Tab (which ships with Android 2.2)? (which ships with Android 1.6) and While most of what we “know” about Android-for-tablets operating systems is shrouded in rumor, we are fairly certain that the fork will begin with Gingerbread, a.k.a. Android 3.0, which may be released as soon as this fall. And Honeycomb is thought to be the next iteration of the same fork.
We can also safely speculate these OSes won’t run on any but the highest-powered mobile devices, such as the Google/Verizon tablet that we expect to see around the holiday season.