Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nov. 14 rolled out the source code for its Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" operating system, signaling that platform is moving closer to prime time.
ICS, which symbolizes the unification of the 2.x smartphone branch and the Android Honeycomb tablet branch, borrows holographic user interface traits from Honeycomb, and makes apps tailored for tablets compatible on the smaller smartphone form factor.
Software navigation keys, a redesigned keyboard are all part of ICS, as are the ability to unlock phones via facial detection and Android Beam, a near field communications app that lets users share Web pages and documents by tapping two ICS-based phones together.
Google released the ICS source code for version 4.0.1, which is powering the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone, on Android's Open-Source Project git servers, said Jean-Baptiste Queru, a software engineer for Google's Android open source project, in a post on the company's Android building group.
The Galaxy Nexus, the first ICS phone, has a huge, 4.65-inch display, is powered by a 1.2GHz processor and runs on 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks from Verizon Wireless. It could arrive from the carrier in the U.S. Nov. 21, which is when Google completes its 10-day Galaxy Nexus smartphone giveaway.
Developers will find links to the code repositories here. Queru noted that developers will find a device build target named "full_maguro" in the source tree that they can use to build a system image for the Galaxy Nexus.
This tree includes all of the Honeycomb source code, which has been held back by Google several months ago as the company sought to improve it for smartphones. However, Qeuru warned that the code is incomplete so he asked developers to focus on ICS instead.
Queru also warned that because ICS is a larger code push that it will take a awhile to complete. Programmers who sync before it's complete will get a broken, unusable copy.