Google has not yet announced, much less released, the successor to the Google Nexus S (made by Samsung), but word is already starting to spread regarding the Android version to follow Android 2.4/4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), which presumably will be debuted with a new Nexus reference device.

A reliable source close to This is my next (TIMN) said that the Android version to follow Ice Cream Sandwich might be called “Jelly Bean.” Google has been naming Android versions after sweets and desserts, and in alphabetical order (i.e., Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, and Honeycomb).

The version number for Jelly Bean (i.e., Android 5.0), of course, is just our speculation for now, since Google has not even given a version number yet for Ice Cream Sandwich, the successor to Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Android 3.0 Honeycomb, and said to be a unifying “cohesive” version.

Some speculate ICS’s version number is going to be Android 2.4, while others speculate it’s going to be Android 4.0. But, we’ll soon find out in the next couple of months, if earlier reports about the release date for ICS turn out to be accurate.

Game-Changing Features Moved to Jelly Bean

Previous reports have spoken of “game-changing stuff” that ICS will be packed with, but the TIMN tipster said that those new features have been pushed back to Jelly Bean. TIMN’s sources spoke of “major architectural, functional, and design changes” coming with ICS–something that we think deserves a new Nexus release, as has been customary for Google with major releases of Android (e.g., Nexus One for Android 2.1 Eclair and Nexus S for Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread).

The possibility of a “Nexus 4” is not unlikely either, especially in the light of the recent info about big, new features being moved farther from ICS to Jelly Bean.

Current rumors claim that a new Nexus will be launched together with Ice Cream Sandwich. Previous rumors floated “Nexus Prime” as the possible name for the flagship reference device. Other rumors say it might be called the Nexus 3 or the Nexus Plus. The most recent reports are suggesting, however, that the upcoming Nexus device will be called the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Will Google Still Release a Nexus for ICS?

It is even possible for Google not to release a Nexus device for ICS, just as it did not release a Nexus device for Android 3.0 Honeycomb (which launched with the Motorola XOOM as the flagship reference tablet). There has been talk of an upcoming Samsung DROID Prime (purportedly a Nexus Prime variant heading for Verizon). It is possible for ICS to be debuted with that device, too.

If Google decides to skip a new Nexus for ICS, then none of the currently rumored devices (especially the Samsung GT-I9250 that has been hotly reported about lately and rumored to be the Samsung Galaxy Nexus) will bear the Nexus brand. This would also mean that the Nexus Prime (Nexus 3, Nexus Plus, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, or whatever they’ll name the reference handset) will be launching with Jelly Bean instead.

As to what new “game-changing” features ICS or Jelly Bean will be tagging along with, we have no definite idea for now.

As to whether Samsung will be making the Nexus 4, we have no idea at all. But, with Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola, chances are high that Google just might leverage Motorola’s hardware-making powers.

If all these speculations and rumors are making your heads swirl–don’t worry, you’re not the only ones.

What possible sweet treat or dessert names can you think of for ICS’s successor?

Image credit: Keith Williamson (Flickr)