Could Android Ice Cream Sandwich be Honeycomb optimized for phones?

While there have been a few people who’ve dropped hints saying that Honeycomb will be compatible with Android phones, we’ve yet to get a real confirmation that Honeycomb will be hitting anything other than tablets. Well, it seems Engadget recently got a chance to sit down with Matias Duarte, the WebOS designer lead that Google snatched up for Android, and it does indeed look like Honeycomb will reach phones, but may look a bit different when it hits those smaller screens. With the rumors of Android Ice Cream Sandwich hitting this summer as version 2.4, could this be the Honeycomb equivalent that is built for phones?

Honeycomb will bring what Andy Rubin called “fragments” of an app to the tablet. These fragments will act as panels to an application, providing a specific amount of information within a panel. To utilize the extra screen real estate, these panels will be added onto the first part of an application. With Android phones, however, the screen size is just too small to implement such fragments, so once you click a link (say, an email) you’ll be taken to a completely different screen showing the content. So could Ice Cream Sandwich be a stripped down version of Honeycomb, optimized for phones?

While this is nothing but speculation, it’s entirely possible that Ice Cream Sandwich could bring a heavy amount of Honeycomb features to phones, but would be different enough to have its own version. This makes even more sense if Ice Cream Sandwich would indeed be version 2.4, as it wouldn’t be back-tracking in terms of the OS for phones, but rather the Android 3.0 OS built for phones. Could this be the UI overhaul we’ve been expecting? Gingerbread does step up Android in ways in terms of the UI, but many seemed to expect more from it.

When Rubin was asked about the availability of Honeycomb on phones, he alluded to the fact that it was meant for the tablet, but is compatible with both tablets and smartphones. Then again, it doesn’t make sense to give a lower version number of the OS a higher name in terms of lettering. (H, I, J)

I could be completely wrong about this, as this is nothing more than a simple theory. Do you think it’s possible that Ice Cream Sandwich could be Honeycomb for phones, or would that make things too complicated?

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