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Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich and 3.1 Honeycomb come together

Google has made Ice Cream Sandwich official. Click here to see the chocolatey new logo and reveal a clutch of new features in Honeycomb.

Google's next version of the Android software for mobile phones will officially be called Ice Cream Sandwich. The multi-layered chocolatey treat will absorb the new features in version 3.1 of Honeycomb, the next version of Android used in tablets, so there's one version of Android whatever device you're using.

Ice Cream Sandwich will include Honeycomb's task switcher, 3D-style interface and widgets. The company is improving the Android API so developers can easily build apps that work across all different types of device.

It's not clear what version number Ice Cream Sandwich will have, but it will apparently be out in the fourth quarter of this year. In the meantime there's a new version of the tablet software to tuck into.

Honeycomb 3.1

The Honeycomb 3.1 update will start with the Motorola Xoom in the US. It features an improved app switcher, and widgets that can be stretched out to any size you want -- so you can resize your Gmail widget to see more of your emails, for example.

3.1 supports USB, so you can attach other devices that you'd traditionally plug into a computer. You can use keyboards, mice or even an Xbox controller to play games on your phone.

You can plug your camera or other media device into your tablet, and grab pictures directly. That saves you having to plug your camera into a computer, so you can back up the pictures from your camera even when you're away from your desk -- ensuring that your pictures come back from your holiday even if your camera doesn't.

Android features, including the Android Market, are also coming to Google TV, although that's yet to launch here in Europe.

Dying to know when the latest update will hit your phone? It's one of the biggest frustrations Android fans face, as different phones on different networks face differing waits to get the latest update. Google is planning to end that uncertainty by providing a timeline of when the update will arrive on each device. HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Sony Ericsson are involved, as are Vodafone and T-Mobile.

Google unveiled the new Android features at Google I/O, the Big G's developer conference in San Francisco. In the keynote speech the company revealed that there are now 310 devices running Android and 200,000 apps in the Android market. 4.5bn apps have been installed, although if we're being cyncial we wonder if that includes updates. Incredibly, more than 100 million Android devices have been activated, and Google reckons there are are currently more than 400,000 activations per day.