Hardware manufacturer Intel recently let slip that it successfully ported the latest version of Google's Android (News - Alert) OS — 4.1, or Jelly Bean — to work on smartphones based on the company's low-power Medfield Atom processors. These single-core processors are based on the x86 architecture rather than ARM, which is standard for mobile processors, but still offers performance and energy consumption on par with many ARM-based devices.
Intel's vice president and general manager of its mobile computing group, Mike Bell (News - Alert), confirmed that he is currently running the update, along with a number of other Intel employees. Despite this, consumers may still have a long wait ahead until they too can enjoy the latest version of Android.
"We can't put it on the phones. We have to give it to the carriers to put on the phones and they go through acceptance testing," Bell said, also adding that he can't speak on the behalf of carriers or device manufacturers in terms of Android 4.1 testing or deployment.
Despite its years of experience in the PC market, Intel is still a relative newcomer to the mobile scene, with devices running on its Medfield chips having been release by Orange (News - Alert), ZTE, Lava International, Lenovo and Megafon. Since the release of its initial chipset, Intel has been quiet on when upgrades will become available, but the company is apparently looking to release a dual-core Medfield chip later this year.
So far, Medfield-based devices haven't been selling as well ARM devices from manufacturers such as Samsung (News - Alert) and HTC, but pushing out timely updates will surely help its mobile reputation — especially since many manufacturers have yet to release any Jelly Bean updates, despite the fact that its source code was released two months ago. Focusing on strengthening mobile may be a good tactic for Intel (News - Alert), as well, since many analysts are expecting 2012 to be a weak year for PCs.
Jelly Bean, in particular, is a key update for Intel since it features the new "Project Butter," which aims to make the entire Android OS run at a smooth 60 frames per second at all times. This can really rejuvenate older hardware.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman