Google releases Android 3.1, announces 'Ice Cream Sandwich'

Today during the Google IO conference, the company announced Android 3.1. The latest firmware update will be released today for Verizon Xoom 3G customers, and will continue to roll out to other customers in the coming days.

The latest additions to Google Android 3.1, will be turning your Xoom into a USB host. This means people will be able to plug in their cameras and other devices, making the Xoom act like a desktop computer, allowing you to transfer photos and other digital media. The USB host will even allow users to plug in controllers (with the Xbox 360 controller used as a demo) to play games.

Android 3.1 will also come with improved widget support, so users can expand or shrink the size of widgets on their screen, getting more out of the widgets you want.

Aside from the Android 3.1 update, Google announced that they are having over one billion installs every 60 days, with over 4.5 billion total installs worldwide. The marketplace now has over 200,000 apps available, with a mix of free and paid apps, ranging from gaming to basic applications.

Google is now activating 400,000 Android devices daily.

You can watch the live stream of the Google IO conference here.

Google also unveiled Android Ice Cream Sandwich. The next update, due in Q4 2011, will work on both tablets and mobile devices. Google also unveiled the new logo for the update:

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Android is like a typical Linux distribution. They could have a thousand revisions in all the nightly builds (just look at CyanogenMod), but you still end up waiting months or years to get some of the features that other operating systems have been boasting for years. Of course, hardware fragmentation is probably the biggest cause of this. One example of something I've been waiting for; why do we still see sluggish (non accelerated) interfaces on any Android device in 2011? I thought Apple had this mastered back in 2007. Google is boasting new features like USB support in 3.1, but seemed to forget all the stuff missing on devices running 1.6, 2.1, 2.2, etc.

i never understood why ice cream sandwiches had those little holes in the bread part... or why the bread part melts into liquid considering it's bread. try it, leave it in the sun. the ice cream melts, duh, but the bread??? why does the bread melt?!?

Jonessie said,
Never mind Ice Cream 3.1 what about Gingerbread 2.3 for the UK... This was scrapped by Google.

Say what? Certain handsets have already been updated to 2.3.

Why do we keep talking about the Xoom like its the only android tablet out there. Its NOT the only one and its for sure not the cheapest, you can find much better ones for much cheaper. The fact that the screen is completely trumped by one that cost only $399 just proves that its an overpriced hunk of ****.

Honeycomb source will not be released according to the Google IO Q&A. Apparently they will be releasing Ice Cream Sandwich instead. The reason being that they didn't want ports of honeycomb on phones.

nubs said,
Honeycomb source will not be released according to the Google IO Q&A. Apparently they will be releasing Ice Cream Sandwich instead. The reason being that they didn't want ports of honeycomb on phones.

I can't blame them.

I saw the Xoom at Staples the other day, not as big as I thought (good thing!) and felt pretty nice too. I may get one of them - i just want WIFI ONLY though, not anything else! Add some 3.1 on there and oh yeah baby, looking pretty sweet!

SHoTTa35 said,
I saw the Xoom at Staples the other day, not as big as I thought (good thing!) and felt pretty nice too. I may get one of them - i just want WIFI ONLY though, not anything else! Add some 3.1 on there and oh yeah baby, looking pretty sweet!

I have the WiFi only version and LOVE it. I bought it as a novelty, but end up using it far more than I thought I would. It lives next to the sofa and gets used almost daily.

Fezmid said,

I have the WiFi only version and LOVE it. I bought it as a novelty, but end up using it far more than I thought I would. It lives next to the sofa and gets used almost daily.

Same here, it is a great go between for every day stuff, web browsing, email, e-reader, casual gaming. Nice to just pick it up read my email, switch to a book, the jump into a game!

AP707 said,
Looking at the picture of that android there they should have called it Android 3.1 Oreo.
What? Why? It's not an oreo...it's an ice cream sandwich...

AP707 said,
Looking at the picture of that android there they should have called it Android 3.1 Oreo.

I would assume Oreo is trademarked.

AP707 said,
Looking at the picture of that android there they should have called it Android 3.1 Oreo.

Where do you live that you've never seen an Icecream Sandwich??

The USB host will even allow users to plug in controllers (with the Xbox 360 controller used as a demo) to play games.

That sounds pretty cool. The Android tablet approach seems to be the same as the Windows tablet approach, just mostly sans-keyboard sans-stylus and pro-touch. But still, a machine that can be attached to peripherals and function as a stand-alone computer. The problem with this approach is that people who already have computers and are dependent on software on Windows or Mac won't have that software on their tablet. I suspect that most users want a tablet because they want the tablet form factor. The extra meat on the device that gives it more features distracts from the tablet form factor (adds extra weight, makes it thicker).

Android and Windows tablets seem to be going for a swiss-army knife approach, while Apple is going for a machete with their iPad.

"and will continue to roll out to other customers in the coming days."

What other customers ? Can you upgrade a 2.2/2.3 Android tablet to 3.1 ?

alexalex said,
"and will continue to roll out to other customers in the coming days."

What other customers ? Can you upgrade a 2.2/2.3 Android tablet to 3.1 ?

There are other tablets running HC other than the XOOM. Acer Iconia and Asus Transformer are two just off the top of my head.

alexalex said,
"and will continue to roll out to other customers in the coming days."

What other customers ? Can you upgrade a 2.2/2.3 Android tablet to 3.1 ?

3 requires dual core processor which I don't think a 2 device would have

trip21 said,

3 requires dual core processor which I don't think a 2 device would have

Where did you see that Android 3 requires dual-core?

Edit: Just looked it up. Android 3.0 system requirements:
1 GHz Single Core
512 MB RAM
3.5" Display

So I hope to enjoy it on my Nook Color! I'm running at 1.2/1.3 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 7" Display (1024x600).

Quarter 4 2011 for Ice Cream Sandwhich? Doesn't follow their typical release pattern, but I'm still stoked! Nice to see a unified OS.

I hope that the O/S is as efficient at utilising the smartphone as much as other platforms. Windows Phone 7 is able to run very smoothly without being choppy or hesitate, while Android still seems to lack that all round smoothness despite having dual core CPU's for crying out loud!

emzino said,
I hope that the O/S is as efficient at utilising the smartphone as much as other platforms. Windows Phone 7 is able to run very smoothly without being choppy or hesitate, while Android still seems to lack that all round smoothness despite having dual core CPU's for crying out loud!
The UI isn't hardware accelerated...

emzino said,
I hope that the O/S is as efficient at utilising the smartphone as much as other platforms. Windows Phone 7 is able to run very smoothly without being choppy or hesitate, while Android still seems to lack that all round smoothness despite having dual core CPU's for crying out loud!

Because it does more then 1 thing at any instance and has varible hardware not 2 year old same hardware in every device.

tsupersonic said,
The UI isn't hardware accelerated...

Honeycomb has accelerated hardware and Ice Cream Sandwhich will as well. Dual-core handsets run 2.2 and above without being choppy. Heck my N1 runs 2.3.4 smooth as butter.

emzino said,
I hope that the O/S is as efficient at utilising the smartphone as much as other platforms. Windows Phone 7 is able to run very smoothly without being choppy or hesitate, while Android still seems to lack that all round smoothness despite having dual core CPU's for crying out loud!

I've got no issue running Android on my legacy mobile.

Digitalx said,

Because it does more then 1 thing at any instance and has varible hardware not 2 year old same hardware in every device.

Well it apparently sucks at doing more than one thing at once.

And the fact that WP7 is using '2 year old' hardware and still runs better than android seems to be a compliment, not insult, of WP7.

Jmaxku said,

Honeycomb has accelerated hardware and Ice Cream Sandwhich will as well. Dual-core handsets run 2.2 and above without being choppy. Heck my N1 runs 2.3.4 smooth as butter.

a) What you consider smooth as butter is not what most people consider smooth as butter.

b) All the reviews I read on the Atrix mentioned the UI being choppy.

Now I don't need to wait for win8 tablet honeycomb will be mature enough at the time win 8 tablet will release just like wp7 win 8 for tablet will be too late
I'm going to ditch my iPad over xoom

lay_forat said,
Now I don't need to wait for win8 tablet honeycomb will be mature enough at the time win 8 tablet will release just like wp7 win 8 for tablet will be too late
I'm going to ditch my iPad over xoom

It's never too late.

lay_forat said,
Now I don't need to wait for win8 tablet honeycomb will be mature enough at the time win 8 tablet will release just like wp7 win 8 for tablet will be too late
I'm going to ditch my iPad over xoom

I love Android, but I would suggest waiting for a Honeycomb tablet that doesn't have Nivida's Tegra 2

Simon- said,
how about source code?
You can only get into the source code if you're dead and it will send you into a whole new universe.

Simon- said,
how about source code?

They aren't going to release the source code for Honeycomb. They did a bunch of hacks to get it working on a tablet fast and they don't want to put those out for people to build off. When Ice Cream Sandwich comes out they'll have fleshed out all the hacks and release the source once again.

TruckWEB said,
That's it? USB Host and better wigget?

Google is also indicating that this version should stop version fragmentation issues, so there's that.

Sraf said,

Google is also indicating that this version should stop version fragmentation issues, so there's that.

That's big news for me, I think it should have been included in the article. Fragmentation was getting to be really frustrating.

Now how are they going to do when Android 2.x arrives at ... 3.x?

Fezmid said,
So... Any updates on that SD slot being activated yet....?
What SD slot? Android devices which have a (micro)Sd slot can use that fine. Confused with Windows Mobile perhaps?

Menthix said,
What SD slot? Android devices which have a (micro)Sd slot can use that fine. Confused with Windows Mobile perhaps?

The SD slot on the Xoom is not active...

Menthix said,
Ah, didn't know that. Odd.

Yeah, was referring to the Xoom. I don't NEED the SD slot yet (32G of internal memory is plenty), but it'd be nice to have it, just in case.

Fezmid said,
So... Any updates on that SD slot being activated yet....?

The SD card is Motoroloa's problem from what I've read. The fact Acer's A500 supports it out of the box would confirm this.

I thought 3.1 was Ice cream Sandwich? Is 3.1 still called honeycomb?

trip21 said,

I thought 3.1 was Ice cream Sandwich? Is 3.1 still called honeycomb?

If you read the article, you'd know it was changed.