The newest versions of Android are typically announced in detail at Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) I/O, which took place last month. The search giant unveiled a slew of new offerings, including a new streaming music service All Access. The two most notably absent announcements were a second-generation Nexus 7 and any mention of the next version of Android. Where is Android 5.0?
Casually known as Key Lime Pie (what other desserts start with K?), VR-Zone is exclusively reporting that Google is preparing to launch Android 5.0 in October. The company is hoping to optimize Android for devices with more memory. That also happens to be about when the company's Motorola subsidiary is expected to launch its X Phone, implying that Googorola could have a joint launch event ahead of the busy holiday shopping season.
Another important thing missing at Google I/O was talk of Nexus phones. Some investors had been expecting a new Nexus 5 smartphone, but would have to settle with a "Google Edition" of Samsung's Galaxy S4. Current Nexus 4 manufacturer LG has reportedly become disenchanted with making low-margin Nexus phones for Google's benefit. Ahead of I/O, there were rumors that Key Lime Pie's development was being delayed, in part to give OEMs more time to launch their devices running 4.2.2 Jelly Bean before updating the platform.
If Google intends to launch Android 5.0 along with the X Phone in October, it's going to be a busy fall. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is launching new products "this fall" and if the Mac maker sticks to an approximate one-year product cycle, we could be talking about new iPhones and iPads all due out at the same time. Apple just announced iOS 7, the next major version of its own mobile operating system, which will likely launch alongside the new hardware also.
Even once Google announces Key Lime Pie, Android's platform fragmentation means that a significant portion of its user base won't benefit. Android software updates are notorious for delays related to carriers and OEMs, with Nexus devices getting the timeliest updates.
Tim Cook pointed this out during Apple's event last week, showing that 93% of iOS users are on the latest version.
An incredible 37% of Android's installed base is still using 2.3 Gingerbread, which was released in 2010. Only a third of Android users are on the latest version Jelly Bean, and the figures that Google provides don't include all the distinct forks out there.
With iOS 7, Apple is catching back up with design, an area where Google has surpassed the iPhone maker in recent times. Can Google put more heat on Apple this fall?
Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.