Google releases Android ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ source code


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Google is now sharing its Ice Cream Sandwiches with everybody.

The tech giant has released the source code for its eagerly anticipated Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system -- the first version of Android designed to run on both phones and tablets.


The version of Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.1) released by the Mountain View, Calif., company is the same software that will run on the upcoming Galaxy Nexus smartphone, built by Samsung and exclusive (so far) to Verizon Wireless.

‘We just released a bit of code we thought this group might be interested in,’ Google engineer Jean-Baptiste Queru wrote in a post in an Android developer Google Group on Monday. ‘Over at our Android Open-Source Project git servers, the source code for Android version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is now available.’

The Ice Cream Sandwich operating system and download instructions are available here.

In announcing the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, Queru also offered a new bit of reasoning behind Google’s never open sourcing Android Honeycomb, its only version of Android built specifically for tablets.

‘This release includes the full history of the Android source code tree, which naturally includes all the source code for the Honeycomb releases,’ he said of the Ice Cream Sandwich source code. ‘However, since Honeycomb was a little incomplete, we want everyone to focus on Ice Cream Sandwich.’

Although Queru described Honeycomb as incomplete, Google’s head of Android, Andy Rubin, told Bloomberg Businessweek magazine in March that the company didn’t want to open source Honeycomb because it didn’t want the tablet-optimized operating system to end up on smartphones.

From Bloomberg Businessweek’s March report:

Rubin says that if Google were to open-source the Honeycomb code now, as it has with other versions of Android at similar periods in their development, it couldn’t prevent developers from putting the software on phones ‘and creating a really bad user experience. We have no idea if it will even work on phones.’ ‘Android is an open-source project,’ he adds. ‘We have not changed our strategy.’

Indeed, with Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of Android is open source once again.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles