AH Primetime: Can Google Unify the Android World Under a Single OS Version With It's Next Release?

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First things first, we know nothing about the next version of Android, what will it be called, what number will it be and what changes will it bring, so this whole article is partly rumors and partly speculation.

Now that the disclaimer has been made, let’s talk a little bit about some things that we’re expecting in Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, which from now on I’ll just call KLP.

First, the name and number, we’re waiting for 4.3 to crawl out of Google’s servers any day now, some rumors put it on July, but that’s already upon us. The next major version of Android should be number 5 and the Key Lime Pie makes sense with Google’s naming scheme, there aren’t that many deserts with the letter K. According to the Wall Street Journal this version is being tested internally at Google under the nickname “K Release”. It’s just a name and number, that’s the least important thing about Android, right?

So, let’s talk about what’s important here: features. The most important feature rumored to be released with KLP is the ability for the OS to expand itself beyond the limits of smartphones and tablets. So far, Google only allowed manufacturers to have Google certified devices in those two markets, and while some companies attempted to go outside of that (we’ve seen an oven running Android) they’re not certified by Google, but most importantly, Android wasn’t optimized for them.

What does this mean for the future of Android and it’s ecosystem? it could be the biggest change in it’s history since release in 2007. It could mean a hardware and software ecosystem without limits, from smartwatches, smartglasses and TVs (could this merge Google TV into Android? I think that’s a topic for another day) to game consoles, fridges, ovens, toasters or cars. And that isn’t limited to new hardware, but imagine what would this mean for the software ecosystem, what range of apps will appear in the Play Store to take advantage of all this new hardware, new sensors and how to integrate them. Let me just say that I would love to have my watch let me know when the food is done in the oven and a live feed of the inside is sent directly to my phone, All that with the same app, installed in 3 different devices, each one recognized by the app.

And that’s just the first thing that came to my mind, I’m sure you can think of something even stranger and cooler.

The other big change that’s supposed to come with KLP is optimizations for low-end devices, there are still many devices out there with low memory and/or slow processors, 512 MB is nothing compared to the 2 GB of today’s high-end phones. Until now, those devices were abandoned as soon as the next version of Android appeared, just because all the new stuff needed more power to run.

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This drawing was seen in the Google I/O, pretty much confirming the name of the next version.

This new release will put that to an end, by being able to run in those low-end specs and giving the ability for upgrades to any device in the market. Wouldn’t it be cool if Google upgraded the Nexus S to Android 5.0 just to prove the point that any decent 3-year old device can run it?

This could end the so-called fragmentation in the Android ecosystem and every device would be able to run the latest version of the OS. Developers would only have to focus on that version to hit the masses.

We have the rumors of Google building a game console a smart watch and a new Nexus Q, those are all types of devices which until now weren’t able to run a Google certified version of Android, and you certainly can’t fit 2 GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 800 in a watch.

All the rumors seem to be pointing in this direction, let’s hope this is all true and Google will surprise us with a whole new range of Nexus devices to play with when Android 5.0 hits the market.

And while we’re talking rumors, the WSJ says that Google is building low-cost devices on it’s own, outside of Motorola’s hardware to cater all the emerging markets around the world. It would be amazing to see the cheap devices pop up all over the world all running the latest version of Android with every feature at it’s disposal.

Key Lime Pie should be release in the fall, and I’m certainly eager to see what Google brings to the party. If this is true and we start seeing all of these new devices come up, It’s gonna be a really fun 2014.