Google exec hints of Android 5.0 release this fall

Google is not letting on much about the next version of Android, even though it is rumored to be coming to a smartphone by early summer.

More likely, it will be rolled out in the fall, based on comments made by Hiroshi Lockheimer, vice president of engineering for mobile at Google. He spoke with Computerworld at Mobile World Congress here Monday.

“After Android 4 comes 5, and we haven’t announced the timing yet, which we’re still sorting out,” Lockheimer said. “There’s a lot of engineering work behind it still, and there’s also just the question of how to time it.”

Lockheimer added: “In general, the Android release cadence is one major release a year with some maintenance releases that are substantial still.” That statement would suggest a fall 2012 time frame for the release of Android 5.0, given that Android 4.0 was released last November, he acknowledged.

Nonetheless, Lockheimer added a caveat: “Having said that, we’re flexible. The [timing of releases] is not what drives us, but what does is innovation and offering users a great experience.”

Lockheimer wouldn’t divulge the dessert name that Android 5.0 will be called, following after Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) for 4.0. Google is already getting suggestions for sweets that begin with the letter “J” for the version of Android coming after 5.0, he said. Earlier versions of the mobile operating system were called Cup Cake 1.5 , Donut (2.0) , Eclair (2.1), Froyo 2.2 , Gingerbread (2.3) and Honeycomb (3.0).

Google is still enjoying the success of Android 4.0, a version that was well-received by developers and users. At MWC, the large Google booth, located in the back corner of a major exhibition hall, was crowded with visitors to dozens of Google partners showing off their ICS-related applications.

One Google partner, Wyse Technologies, uses Android Beam technology to run its NFC software in ICS to initiate file transfers between devices.

Using two Galaxy Nexus phones, Wyse employees placed the first phone near the second to give it permission to access a file kept in the cloud or on a PC. The actual download of the file to the second phone was sent over Wi-Fi, but a 3G or other wireless signal could be used. NFC is too constrained to transfer the actual file, they said.

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