A report from Taiwanese news publication DigiTimes claims that Google could launch Android 5, codenamed Jelly Bean, in the second quarter of 2012. The report cites unnamed manufacturers in the supply chain.
The report indicates that Jelly Bean will integrate “Chrome system functions.” DigiTimes also claims that Google aims to bring Android 5 to the netbook and laptop market. These rumors together raise questions about whether Google is looking at a potential path forward for converging Android and Chrome OS. It’s worth noting that Google recently launched an Android port of the Chrome Web browser, which is now in public beta for Android 4.
DigiTimes further claims that hardware manufacturers will be able to produce dual-operating system tablet devices that run Android 5 and Windows 8. Such products will reportedly allow the user to switch between the operating systems without having to reboot, which distinguishes them from traditional dual-boot configurations.
DigiTimes has a mixed track record on rumors, so its claims regarding Android 5 should be taken with a grain of salt. The rumored second quarter release date seems dubious in light of how long previous Android development cycles have taken, but it’s possible that the work Google did to overhaul the platform during the transition between Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich has allowed the company to accelerate development.
As BGR pointed out in its coverage of the DigiTimes report, moving Android to a faster release cycle could seriously exacerbate the fragmentation caused by Android’s version spread. Many popular Android handsets aren’t scheduled to be updated to Android 4 until the second half of this year, so it’s not clear what a Q2 release of Android 5 would mean for the hardware vendors that are struggling to get Android 4 out the door.