When Google introduced Android 3.0 Honeycomb in January the company made it pretty clear that it was Android designed for tablets. But it wasn’t entirely clear at the time if that meant it wasn’t designed for smartphones, and some signs actually pointed to Honeycomb running on phones as well as tablets.

Now it looks like Google plans to keep things separate… for now. But the next version of Android for phones will reportedly incorporate many of the elements of Honeycomb, and eventually all Honeycomb features will be available for phones “in some form.”

The next version of Android for smartphones is code-named Ice Cream, and word is that it will bring the action bar that runs at the top of apps in Honeycomb. Buttons on the action bar can change depending on context, removing the need for tap-and-hold motions.Ice Cream may also bring the new Hologram look and feel of Honeycomb and the new app switcher with thumbnail images of running apps.

Phone users may never get the system bar that hangs out on the bottom of the screen on tablets though, because screen real estate is at a premium on phones. So it’s likely we’ll continue to see physical home and back buttons on Android handsets.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...