As everyone is trying to guess whether the next big Android update is going to be Key Lime Pie or not, and whether the release will be Android 5.X or 4.X, we have yet to hear anything concrete. After getting a tip from an eagle-eyed reader (thanks, deepayan!) and digging deeper, I can definitively tell you that Google is currently working on Android 4.3, and it is still Jelly Bean.

4-26-2013 3-47-47 PM

  1. Specifically, the build I'm seeing floating around our server logs is Android 4.3 JWR23B, which indicates this is still Jelly Bean (the first letter of the build is always the same as the first letter of the Android version name).
    Now, you might say that server logs can be easily faked, and it happens all the time. You'd be absolutely right, which is why I would have never posted this had I not traced the IP range to Google itself. In fact, 2 different IP ranges, both corresponding to Google employees. Employees that have a lot to do with Android. It's the same IP range that had previously clued us in to some of the unreleased versions of Android before they were announced.
  2. The Android 4.3 devices I've seen so far are Nexus 4 and Nexus 7.
  3. Furthermore, and this was the original tip that prompted me to look for more clues, there are several very recent comments in the official Chromium bug tracker that list JWR23B as a build number, giving more credibility to this finding. The person who left the comments is a Chromium developer, which suggests affinity to Google, once again.

So, what does this all mean? Here are my thoughts:

  1. Google doesn't assign version numbers to Android releases until a short time before they're set to be unveiled. We're talking weeks or a couple of months max.
  2. Google does not assign version numbers to internal/test releases. Those are usually called something like JellyBeanMR1 and then assigned proper versions number when they're close to release.
  3. Android 4.3 started appearing in the logs recently, while Android 5.X is nowhere to be found, and neither are any K***** builds.
  4. Google I/O is in less than a month.
  5. Everyone has been expecting Google to unveil the newest version of Android at the conference, as Google has traditionally done in the past. Most have suggested that it would be Android 5.0, Key Lime Pie, or some other dessert starting with K, meaning a big leap from Jelly Bean, usually requiring app compatibility updates and bringing serious architectural changes. Think Android 3.0 compared to 2.X and Android 4.0 compared to 2.X and 3.X. That kind of big.
  6. Recently, a rumor started floating around that the next major revision is going to be delayed to give OEMs (and developers) some breathing space.
  7. We now know that Google is working on Android 4.3, which is still Jelly Bean. Today's findings suggest (this part is in my opinion, not a fact) that the company is going to unveil 4.3 and not 5.X at Google I/O. I may end up being wrong on this one, but all the clues are lining up pretty well to fit this theory.
  8. The versioning likely points to OS changes that are not too drastic for developers to adapt their apps to and OEMs to upgrade devices to. Think Android 2.0 -> 2.1, 2.1 -> 2.2, 4.0 -> 4.1, and 4.1 -> 4.2 (especially the latter). This is a good thing - as we know, Jelly Bean can be found on only 25% of devices, and that's after Google reworked the algorithm used to report these numbers.

Update: Reddit user danrant has chimed in with a whole bunch of other evidence that points to an incremental Jelly Bean release rather than Key Lime Pie. Go read his comment here.

Still with me? Good.

Of course, none of the information uncovered today gets us any closer to the list of features we can expect in the next announced version of Android, but either the leaks or Google I/O itself will tell us in just about 3 weeks.