What do we actually know about Android 5.0 (Jelly Bean)?

In typical bleeding edge fashion, it felt like the very next day after Google announced the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0, the early adopters of the world had begun to focus on the next version of Android. Like most things in the tech community, rumors and leaks and dribblings of information from sources unconfirmed have come from every corner of the universe to help up over hype the next iteration of Android. Officially, nothing has been announced from anybody, but there’s still enough information floating around that we can piece together a couple of things that seem very likely.

The Hardware
For all of its success in the mobile phone space, Android has been less than successful in the tablet space. There’s no shortage of reasons why, either. Android 3.0 was rushed out to stop OEM’s from using versions of Android on devices that the OS wasn’t optimized for. Even now, with Android 4.0, Google has their hand in the tablet market, but still has yet to step in and participate. Since Android 2.2, Google has released a reference device as the poster child of the version of the OS. The Nexus devices gave the Android purists — the stock experience fans — something to look forward to. That experience has yet to exist in the tablet space.

According to sources from HTC and Samsung, the reference device for the next version of Android will not be a phone. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus will remain the flagship phone for Google into the next version of Android, but the reference device for Jelly Bean will be a tablet. As of right now, there’s no talk of names or manufacturers. Google is receiving bids from every manufacturer to build this next device, and has yet to settle on any of them. With Google’s guiding hand, there’s a hope that Android will begin to offer a more competitive product in the tablet market.

The Software
There’s no shortage of rumors in regards to what is coming for the next version of Android. The most common conversation I see across the internet is the merging of Chrome OS and the Chrome Store with Android. Chrome Beta for Android has already come to Android 4.0, so it is not difficult to imagine that as Chrome for Android leaves the beta name behind, we’ll see the Android app gain features that will bring the apps closer together. By the time Jelly Bean comes out, Android will be competing not only with iOS, but also with Windows 8. With that in mind, it makes sense that Google will focus on their individual services, as well as the OS. Among other services we’ve heard Google that would probably make their way into the next version of Android is Majel, the next step in Google’s voice command software and supposed SIRI competitor.
The other “killer app” we’ve seen from Google I/O last year was Android@Home. The demonstration of this tech at I/O last year was extremely alpha and the UI was nonexistent, but the ability to control your world from your phone is something geeks have been trying to do for years. If this service were tightly integrated into the phone, perhaps enough to deliver notifications by flashing a light in whatever room I am in, the service could seriously change how phones are used.supposed SIRI competitor.

Final Thoughts
The important thing to keep in mind with all of the Android rumors is that right now we have zero official confirmation from Google on anything. At the moment, the latest version of Android only accounts for a miniscule fraction of the Android devices that are currently out there. The urge to have the latest and greatest of everything, to live on the bleeding edge of tech is exciting, but it is also important to keep in mind that these companies also need to make and sell products for the rest of the world as well. Personally, I would like to see a substantial percentage of Android devices on the latest version of the OS before we get all excited about the next version, but that is a topic for another day.

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