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Was Android Ice Cream Sandwich leaked via eBay?

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(Read caption) Android Ice Cream Sandwich, the code name for Android 4.0, is expected to launch sometime this fall.

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Android 4.0, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich, isn't expected to launch until later this year. But a version of the OS may already exist in the wild. According to Engadget, the story goes something like this: An anonymous gentleman, let's call him Fred, places a winning bid for a Samsung Nexus handset on eBay. When Fred boots up the phone, he discovers – surprise! – that the thing is apparently pre-equipped with Ice Cream Sandwich.

Fred sends the video to Engadget, which promptly posts it, igniting a tech blog firestorm, and not long after, Fred's new Nexus is wiped clean, remotely. Typical caveats apply: Everything is anonymous here, so it's tough to suss out the veracity of Fred's story. Also, as Brad Molen of Endgadget notes, "all of this could just be a custom ROM built to emulate the latest Google dessert, so we can't be a full hundred percent certain that it's authentic."

Still, the video certainly looks intriguing. "We can see plenty of influence from both Gingerbread and Honeycomb here, as well as four shortcuts on the bottom (a definite bump from the two found on vanilla 2.3). There's a new Google Apps icon which opens up a tray containing a number of featured services put out by the search giant, and long-pressing the home button brings up a vertical Honeycomb-style multitasking menu," Molen writes.

"The notification bar, camera UI and other menus also have a much different look," he adds. At any rate, the timing lines up: Google is already sending out emails to certain members of the tech press, inviting them to "a look at what's new from Android." And Google chair Eric Schmidt has forecasted an "October or November" release date for Android 4.0.

Horizons readers will remember that back in June, Google announced that it was activating 500,000 Android phones a day, a boost from 300,000 last December. And by one metric, at least, Android is the most popular operating system in the world. Part of that success has come with the regular and highly-buzzed-about releases of OS upgrades such as Ice Cream Sandwich.

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