Though Android tablets have already begun popping up, Google says its mobile operating system is not quite ready for that purpose.
TechRadar quoted Hugo Barra, Google's director of mobile products, on Friday saying "Froyo is not optimized for use on tablets." Froyo is the name for Android's current version of the operating system, version 2.2.
And that's despite the latest round of tablets featuring Android shown at IFA Berlin last week. Android Market, the place for Android users to buy apps, won't work properly on tablets, he said.
"If you want Android market on that platform, the apps just wouldn't run, [Froyo] is just not designed for that form factor." But it's been hinted that future versions will be.
That might explain why the Android tablets already for sale are curiously smartphone-like.
The Dell Streak, which debuted in the U.K. and the U.S. this summer, is a perfect example. While Dell calls it a tablet, it has a 5-inch screen, which is closer in size to a smartphone than an iPad, has voice calling as a feature, and is sold through carriers.
The Galaxy Tab from Samsung, which runs Froyo and was warmly received at IFA, is a bit larger at 7 inches, but also allows phone calls and will be available through carriers.
And Samsung is already advertising that the device will be upgradable to Android 3.0, called Gingerbread. But the following build of the Android operating system, Honeycomb, won't be available for the first Galaxy Tab models, according to Samsung. There will be new hardware to support that.
"Since we emphasized portability and mobility, our determination was to apply smartphone platform instead of tablet platform," W.P. Hong, director of mobile products for Samsung, said last week. "Honeycomb will be implemented in our next-generation tablet, not this device, because that [Honeycomb] is specifically optimized for a different type of tablet. This emphasizes mobility."
So while the iPad competitors have started to come forward, the real rivals for Apple's current dominance in touch-screen tablets won't appear until early next year once Android 3.0, or Gingerbread, is available.