Android 3.0: Coming In March?

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Android 3.0
In the world of Android, things can move pretty fast.

Case in point: Just weeks ago, Google took the wraps off of Android Gingerbread, the latest and greatest version of its mobile operating system. Aside from the newly launched Samsung Nexus S device, no phone even has the software yet -- heck, plenty of users are still waiting for the Android 2.2 upgrade -- but that's not stopping people from looking even further ahead.

They're looking, of course, toward Honeycomb -- the next major stop on Google's Android development track. All signs point to Honeycomb bringing some significant changes to the Android OS; if everything goes as expected, it'll be the first version of Android to be fully optimized for tablets. And if a report published this week is correct, it'll make its way into the world in March.

Android 3.0: The March Release Rumor

The new Honeycomb release rumor comes from Taiwanese newspaper Digitimes. In the middle of a story about upcoming tablet PCs, Digitimes nonchalantly mentions a launch date for Android 3.0, which many people believe will be Honeycomb's official version number. (That belief may or may not be correct, incidentally; some folks think Honeycomb will end up being Android 2.4. Google thus far hasn't given any official indication one way or the other.)

Digitimes' specific statement: "MSI is ... prepared to sell an Nvidia Tegra 2-based model in April or May after Google releases Android 3.0 in March."

So does Digitimes know something we don't? Maybe -- but I wouldn't place any wagers on it. The publication has a history of publishing tech-oriented rumors. Sometimes it's right on the money, but often, its predictions prove to be wrong.

That said, Google has confirmed that Honeycomb's coming in 2011, and an arrival sometime within the first quarter seems like a fairly safe bet. Marketing's already underway for an upcoming Motorola Android tablet, and the promotional materials make it quite clear that Honeycomb will be part of the equation. Motorola says the tablet will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January; there's no telling, however, when it'll actually go on sale.

Motorola Prototype

Remember, too: We've seen a prototype of a Motorola tablet up and running. Google Android chief Andy Rubin demoed the device during a mobile conference in San Francisco earlier this month. The tablet had virtual on-screen buttons in place of the hardware controls typically seen on Android phones. It was also capable of running multiple side-by-side application panes to take advantage of the larger screen space. One would imagine that the product Moto's introducing in January will be pretty darn similar.

The good news: January isn't far away. Odds are, we'll have some firm answers about Motorola's tablet -- and thus also Google's plans for Android -- very soon.

JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the author of the Android Power blog. You can find him on both Facebook and Twitter.

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