After watching Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich / Samsung Galaxy Nexus launch live on YouTube last night (and providing running commentary in my Google+ Profile all the while), I’ve come to one conclusion: Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”) will be awesome. But, to that end, did anybody really expect it to be worse than what we’ve seen before? That would have been more of a surprise.
With any luck, carriers will push out the long-awaited OS update to capable devices within a short matter of time (and short, in this case, is extremely relative). It’s difficult enough for the average consumer to keep up with the cavalcade of new Android devices that seem to drop every other month; why must carriers further burden a customer’s decision-making process with a questionable software update calendar / no OTA updates?
So, yes – the bottom line? If you can get a phone with Ice Cream Sandwich on it today, you should absolutely do it. With it will come countless new features and refinements:
- Easier way to manage your widgets
- iOS-like folder creation
- The ability to add “people” directly to your home screen
- A Calendar app that enables you to zoom in to reveal appointment details
- “Visual Voicemail” with an audio-speed slider
- Easy screen shots (finally)!
- Closer-to-real-time voice dictation feedback
- Get up to 16 “tabs” in Browser.
- Deep-level data usage charts
- Android Beam – allowing you to share data with another Android Beam user
And Dan Morrill further goes on to highlight Upload Settings, Disabling Apps, Camera Controls, Improved Download Manager, Support for Encryption for Phones, and Audio Effects. Is that all? Hardly.
I hesitate to speak too much about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus – since I haven’t touched it or tried it, and I’d be hesitant to trust opinions from those who also have not – but the screen sounds delicious: 1280×720 resolution at 316ppi! Compare that to the iPhone 4/4S’s resolution of 960×640 at 326ppi. To quote Yoda: “Size matters not.” He never said anything about resolution or pixels per inch, though – and that’s what really matters with these pocket computers. That’s right: I called ’em pocket computers. If you’ve got a problem with that, take it up with the definition of “computer” and “pocket.”
For a healthy marriage, hardware and software must work together seamlessly. Theoretically, this is possible. What works well for some seemingly does not for others. Consider this thorn from ThisIsMyNext (don’t shoot the messenger with bigotry):
As to overall performance, we saw a good deal of stutter in the Galaxy Nexus before us. Taps were not always recognized and there were occasional delays in performing an instruction, though in Google’s defense, it was a phone fully loaded with running tasks and the software is being continually improved and optimized (i.e. it’s not yet fully baked). That having been said, it unfortunately remains the case that Android isn’t as swift and responsive as iOS or Windows Phone (or even MeeGo Harmattan on the N9). Or at least it wasn’t on the demo phone we got a look at. The subtle, pervasive lag that has characterized the Android UI since it inception is still there, which is not a heartening thing to hear when you’re talking about a super-powered dual-core device like the Galaxy Nexus.
Let’s hope they keep tweaking it to perfection. This industry needs healthy competition, and I’m happy to see Ice Cream Sandwich looking like a more-than-viable option.