Of course, Google itself is hardly the last word when it comes to Android. Versions of Ice Cream Sandwich have already appeared on the Nexus One via the recently-released SDK, and while this isn’t an ideal solution, it’s a pretty good indication that running the software on comparable hardware is far from impossible. Once the official Ice Cream Sandwich source code is released (currently expected a few weeks after the November launch of the Galaxy Nexus) you can bet that a multitude of ROM developers will have Android 4.0 running on the Nexus One in a jiffy.
The more disturbing implication of Google’s announcement is the basic hardware requirement for Ice Cream Sandwich, which has yet to be outlined. Recent mid-range phones like the HTC Rhyme run on hardware that’s almost identical to the original Nexus and HTC Desire, and there’s plenty of low-end phones being introduced on even less powerful hardware. What of these devices, some of which are only weeks old on the market? Will customers who bought a $200 phone this summer be denied an official update just a few months later? Motorola and HTC have committed to bringing Ice Cream Sandwich to current phones, but in most cases have not outlined which precise models will be updated.
Well, it looks like the venerable Nexus One has finally reached the end of its software cycle – officially, at least. When asked whether or not the original Nexus would be seeing an upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Google responded that the phone’s hardware was simply too old to handle the update. The oldest developer phone to get Ice Cream Sandwich will be the Nexus S, released twelve months after the original Nexus One.