Android is more than smartphones. With the release of the original 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab, Android has moved into the big screen arena, and it's slowly picking up steam. There are some very nice bits of hardware out there running Android and we all are getting antsy about when the one we're using might see some Ice Cream Sandwich love.
That's where we come into play. We are surrounded by phones and tablets, and we're going to use a little bit of insight to make a prediction or two about when we'll be seeing OS updates for them. Hit the break, and read along.
The Xoom will see ICS, and it will see it soon after release. There may be an Android 4.0 reference tablet released (we can only hope), but the Xoom is on the fast-track for updates. While it's not officially a Nexus or Google in-house device, it is the one all the fellows at Mountain View used to design Honeycomb, and probably ICS itself.
Expect the Wifi only models to see it first, then after a bit of testing Verizon will follow shortly. Of course, with its unlockable bootloader, expect a custom build of ICS very soon after the source code is released.
(Note that Motorola's support forums have said an update is coming, but that's as official as we've got thus far.)
The Galaxy Tab (10.1, 8.9, and 7 Plus)
Simply put, the Samsung Galaxy Tabs sell too well not to see an update. We mull over specs and hardware requirements when we talk about OS updates, but in reality the biggest determining factor is economics. A popular series of devices means the OEM (in this case Samsung) wants to keep the ball rolling. Samsung's tablet TouchWiz is a pretty light skin, so we don;t expect it to slow things down very much either.
Like the Xoom, expect Wifi versions to see the update first, then carrier versions to follow after. The real puzzle is what Samsung will do with the 5,000 or so Google I/O versions, which may just have to get rooted and use the Wifi-only model's update (like many of us did to try out TouchWiz).
The Nook Color
I don't think B&N will update the Nook Color to ICS. We have to remember that this was designed as an e-reader and not a full blown tablet, even though it does it so well. With the latest update, it does a really nice job doing what it's supposed to do, and B&N has new products coming out that will replace this little beauty.
Anyone who wants ICS on the Nook Color will get it the same way they got the full tablet experience, though. Easy to flash (or even run an OS from the SD card) means ICS will get built for this one from source. I'm curious to see just how well it performs.
(Same goes for the unreleased Amazon Kindle Fire.)
ASUS EeePad Transformer
I just put it here because it's a pleasure to write things like this.
Toshiba will get ICS out to the Thrive. ICS isn't as big of an update for tablets as it is for smartphones, and Toshiba hasn't spread itself thin with hundreds of Android devices. They can focus on updating the Thrive while new products are in development.
The timeline is a big unknown. This is their first go-around with a big Android update, and there will be a learning curve. Let's hope it's not too difficult, and we see it soon.
Acer Iconia (A500 and A100)
One of the best selling Honeycomb tablets, the Acer Iconia (both the 10-inch A500 and the 7-inch A100) will see an ICS build in short order. Acer has done a great job keeping the Iconia updated, so they have practice doing this, and so far it looks like they are standing tall behind their Android tablets.
We think this trend will continue and ICS will come out of nowhere, pleasantly surprising everyone.
Samsung Galaxy Tab (original 7-inch model)
Sadly, I think the days of the OG Android tablet seeing any OS updates are over. Will the OG Tab run ICS? I'm pretty certain it could, but it comes down to the economics again. Samsung won't invest time and money updating this one, because in their eyes it's already been replaced with the new-and-improved 7-inch model.
C'est la vie.
We can only hope. The G-Slate just didn't pan out for LG like many had hoped, probably because of the smaller size and bigger price tag. The 3D gimmick can only carry you so far.
LG, I love your products, so I say this with a sad heart. We might hear word that plans are made to update the G-Slate to ICS, and it's coming in some Q in 2012. That date will come and pass, and it will keep dragging out forever. By the time they get around to updating the G-Slate, nobody will have one any longer.
Root it. Install the custom ROM that will come. When you're finished, you'll thank me.
HTC will update the Jetstream to ICS, and it will still be too expensive, thanks to AT&T's pricing. they have to decide just how Sense will work with ICS, then how that will be different on a tablet. give them a little extra time because of this.
I do think we will see ICS on an HTC tablet well before we see it on a phone. Don't hate -- I'm just the messenger!
Sadly, I don't think HTC wants to update the Flyer to ICS. It's a hell of a machine, built beautifully and the perfect size for many, but I think HTC just released it as a stop-gap. They had to get a tablet of some sort to the market, and the Flyer fit the bill.
Yes, we've seen Honeycomb leaks for the Flyer, and that might happen, but HTC isn't going to want to go any further with the Flyer.
The BlackBerry Playbook
Oh, hell no.
Dude, where's my tablet?
We're not going to list every Android tablet here individually. It's pretty safe to say that if you have a tablet with Honeycomb, like one of the latest Archos tablets, the manufacturer is working on Ice Cream Sandwich for it as we speak. For tablets that haven't been slammed with thick, heavy interfaces atop of Android, it's not nearly as big a deal as it is with smartphones. On the other hand, some try to pretend they aren't built on Android, and who knows what they have planned. Finally, you have the Kindle Fire that may never see an Android version bump past Gingerbread, because Amazon will work all their own changes into the OS.
We can't let this go without a word on the "craplets" out there. A lot of us bought one -- it was hard not to when they end up with a pricetag under a hundred bucks. Don't count on seeing any sort of OS update for these, ever. Instead, expect a new model for $50 more to appear in a month or two that runs ICS, that will never see another OS update. Know this going in, and you won't be disappointed.