Google has posted a notice on its blog that encourages Android developers to prepare their applications for the upcoming release of the Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. The company says that while apps developed for Honeycomb currently run exclusively on tablets, that won’t be the case under Ice Cream Sandwich, and so developers must prepare their applications for smaller displays.
In the post, Google’s Scott Main explains the new OS, and what it will mean for Android smartphones and tablets:
“Early this year, Honeycomb (Android 3.0) launched for tablets. Although Honeycomb remains tablets-only, the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) release will support big screens, small screens and everything in between. This is the way Android will stay from now on: the same version runs on all screen sizes.”
“Some Honeycomb apps assume that they’ll run only on a large screen, and have baked that into their designs. This assumption is currently true, but will become false with the arrival of ICS, because Android apps are forward-compatible – an app developed for Honeycomb is compatible with a device running ICS, which could be a tablet, a phone or something else.”
That means you’ll be able to run applications developed for a Honeycomb tablet on your smartphone powered by Ice Cream Sandwich. However, unless developers prepare their applications for this, it’s not going to be a great experience.
Google suggests two ways in which developers can fix their apps: They can either prepare them for smaller smartphone displays, or they can ensure their Honeycomb tablet apps cannot be installed on a smartphone, so that users don’t attempt to use them and get stuck with an unpleasant experience.
“So, if you’ve developed a tablet app on Honeycomb, it’s important that your app do one of two things: prevent installation on smaller screens or (preferably) support smaller screens with the same APK.”
Main then goes on to explain how developers can alter their applications to make them play nicely with all Ice Cream Sandwich handsets. He concludes by teasing the update’s release:
“Ice Cream Sandwich is coming, and with it, handsets will be able to install apps built on Honeycomb. We haven’t released the ICS SDK just yet, but you can start preparing your Honeycomb apps by thinking about how they should work on smaller screens.”
This is good news for Android users who are looking forward to the release of Ice Cream Sandwich. Asking developers to prepare their applications is a good indication that the new Android OS is nearing its release, and although you’ll have to wait a little bit while Google gives developers the opportunity to fix their apps, it’ll mean that when you finally upgrade to ICS that your Honeycomb applications should continue to work smoothly.
Are you looking forward to Ice Cream Sandwich?