What Does Ice Cream Sandwich 2.4 Mean For Developers ?

During the keynote at Google I/O’11 this week they talked about all kinds of new developing software. They talked about home automation and bringing music to the cloud but what caught my attention the most in terms of Phone.com was the talk of their update to the Android operating system. It’s technically called 2.4 but it’s also known as Ice Cream Sandwich and is going to revolutionize Android by unifying it together.

Up to now Androids biggest problem in my eyes is that it’s heavily fragmented. One company put this skin on the vanilla version of Android, another company put another skin on and so on and so forth. At which point developing for Android meant developing for all different handsets that just ran on the same basic operating system. With Ice Cream Sandwich or ICS this is all going to change. Google is reigning in the manufacturers and skin developers. I’m not exactly sure how companies like HTC will be able to keep their Sense UI (their skin) or if it will make it obsolete. Either way this is a win for some developers, like our Phone.com developers who won’t have to make a slightly different version of our Mobile Office app for the different Android handsets any longer.

Developers won’t have to build in to an app the unique differences for each different handset model, in turn saving them many hours of time developing. This will obviously be a big money saver for companies paying developers as well as making the lives of hobby developers much easier. It should also save on having to buy so many different handsets to test apps on.

Google I/O is always an interesting event and this year was no exception. Attendees got an unreleased 10.1 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab as well as numerous other goodies like an invite to the new Google Music Beta service. All in all Google and Android are taking big steps forward and I think developers are going to really benefit from Ice Cream Sandwich which is expected to launch in the 4th quarter of this year.