So there you have it. It's official now. Eric Schmidt has stated in an interview with Salesforce' CEO at the Dreamforce event, that he expects the Ice-Cream Sandwich version of Android to arrive in October or November. Here's the full quote from Schmidt:
"We have a new operating system, internally known as Ice Cream Sandwich for some reason, which is being released in October/November, which everyone's really excited about."
This goes well with the previous rumors that said Android ICS will arrive with Nexus Prime in November. Ice-Cream Sandwich is supposed to be the OS that unifies the phone and tablet versions of Android. According to Vic Gundotra at Google I/O it's also supposed to have a "state-of-the-art UI", although I'm not sure if that's referring to Honeycomb's UI, or it's a new interface. It would certainly be nice if they re-thought the UI once again, but at the very least I'm sure we'll see a much improved UI as well. Google has said that ICS will be their biggest update so far to the Android OS.
One thing I would be worried about is if they try to rush ICS to market to launch in the same time with the iPhone 5, just like they tried to rush Honeycomb to market to meet the iPad 2. I think that would be a terrible mistake on their part, and while they will be trying to be ahead 1 month earlier than they should be, they will end up losing 6 months of momentum if the OS turns out to be half-baked.
Obviously, it wouldn't be so bad for phones, since they already dominate there, but I don't know if the Android tablets will get yet another chance if they don't wow us this time. There might not be enough time for Android 4.5 later to make a dent in the tablet market before Windows 8 arrives. Even now they only have 1 year to gain serious market share before that happens. And that's certainly not impossible when you remember that Android grew from about 4% to 30% worldwide in about one year. I'm hoping Android 4.0 Ice-Cream Sandwich and the quad core Kal-el will help catalyze the Android tablet market in the second wave of Android tablets starting this fall.