Android OS Buzz Heats Up on Eve of Google I/O

The Android rumors are flying, with just hours now until Google I/O, the behemoth's developers conference, kicks off in San Francisco. Sure, we're also expecting a Google TV update, a Chrome OS notebook and maybe even Google's own take on Groupon, but it's the Android whisperings that are generating some real buzz. Here's a rundown:

Ice Cream Sandwich
It seems almost certain that 'sandwich' will be a part of the name of Google's next version of the Android operating system, and that we'll be hearing more about it in the next 48 hours. It's rumored to bridge the gap between "Gingerbread" (Android 2.3 for smartphones) and "Honeycomb," (3.0, designed for tablets) pollinating this new smartphone platform with some of the exclusive features only seen on Android tabs.

A Stronger Honeycomb
The number of available Android tablets has exploded in recent months, and Google could be announcing improvements to its tab OS to keep pace with the hardware.

New Google Hardware?
There's lots of speculation around the possibility of a new Google device, perhaps a new Nexus phone, or even a Nexus tablet. Google used its original Nexus phone to help launch Android, and a similar tablet launch could be meant to show tablet developers how they'd like to see things done.

A Music Service for Android
Everyone else is doing it, so why not? Rumors and leaks have suggested everything from a cloud-based storage service similar to what Amazon recently launched, right up to a full-blown streaming music app.

A New and Improved Android Market
This is more of a constant complaint than a solid prediction, but Google's app market leaves so much to be desired for both users and developers that it would be a no-lose proposition to announce changes.

NFC

"How to NFC"- for Near Field Communications, that technology that can turn your phone into a replacement for your wallet-- is the title of one of the Android sessions, and a related hardware and/or software announcement might make sense.

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