Google’s next big release of Android will be code named Ice Cream Sandwich, and will be available by the fourth quarter of this year. This will be Google’s attempt to solve it’s OS fragmentation issues, with this version uniting all their devices, including phones and tablets. One new featured noted by Google is support for standard USB peripherals, meaning Ice Cream Sandwich will be able to connect with external devices such as keyboards, trackpads, controllers, etc without any additional hacking or tweaking.
The Ice Cream Sandwich release will include all the Honeycomb 3.1 features, including holographics UI, richer widgets, multitasking UI, etc. Google also said the new code will be available on an open-source basis. One new feature is a virtual camera operator that can determine who is speaking to automatically zoom on the right person for video chats, kind of like how the Kinect zooms in on movement during video chats. The new OS will also ship with a new movies app that will allow users to download and watch movie rentals right from the Android Marketplace. You also have the option of streaming the video to the device, with the normal 24 hour viewing period and 30-day rental. The Movies app will also be released to current Honeycomb tablets with the next 3.1 update, and to Android 2.2 users in the next couple of weeks.