Despite ongoing speculation that Android 3.0 is imminent, it looks like the next release of the mobile operating system--dubbed "Honeycomb"--will be version 2.4.
That's according to a report this week on Android and Me, which cites a developer source who is working on third-party software for multiple versions of Android.
The new, tablet-friendly version is expected to be released around the time of Mobile World Congress in February, according to the source.
For Tablets and Phones
Google vice president of engineering Andy Rubin showed off the upcoming Honeycomb version on a prototype Motorola tablet on the same day that Google released the "Gingerbread" version of the software earlier this month.
Also widely expected to bear the 3.0 version number, Gingerbread turned out to be version 2.3 instead.
Few details about Honeycomb were divulged at the time of Rubin's demonstration, but he did confirm that--unlike previous versions of Android--Honeycomb will be optimized for both tablets and smartphones.
Google has said in the past that other versions of Android are not really tablet-ready, and will not properly run applications downloaded from the Android App Market.
Still undisclosed by Rubin, however, was any specific timeframe for Honeycomb's expected release next year.
'Google Is Holding Version 3.0'
Now, with an expected February launch date, it looks like Honeycomb will be a less significant update than had been anticipated.
"For whatever reason, it sounds like Google is holding version 3.0 for something special," Android and Me's Taylor Wimberly wrote. "You would think they [would] throw 3.0 out [there] to make a statement when the first Honeycomb tablets launch, but I guess like most big Google launches those will be sort of beta, with some new features still missing."
Android versions tend to come out about every six months, with dessert-focused names. The "Froyo" version launched earlier this year added enterprise-focused features including IT password enforcement and remote wipe, while Gingerbread added communications capabilities such as a Near-Field Communications reader and SIP-based VoIP calling.
3.0 to Debut in May?
Still to come are "Ice Cream" and "Jellybean," either of which could potentially take the 3.0 spot. It's conceivable Google might bestow the 3.0 crown on one of those at the big Google I/O conference in May, Wimberly noted.
Linux-based Android now holds third place in U.S. mobile operating system market share, according to comScore, with 24 percent of the market in October.
[Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.]