Google and Samsung officially announced the Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) at its press event in Hong Kong last night and there is a lot to report.
Let’s begin with Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), the latest version of the Android OS by Google, it looks fantastic. The user interface (UI) appears to be heavily influenced by Matias Duarte the Director of Android user experience at Google. Matias was formerly the VP of User experience at Palm and led the interface design teams at both Helio and Danger.
The ICS user interface is elegant in its simplicity, its emphasis on typography starting with ICS Roboto font and layout stands out as a divergent path in Android development. ICS unified gestures throughout the UI and applications should make navigation simpler for new and experienced users alike.
The capacitive buttons are gone, ICS uses full touch screen controls that automatically orient themselves to match the orientation of the phone. The buttons can also be adapted for specific functions that are context sensitive within application sub-menus.
High-quality video from last night’s Ice Cream Sandwich/Galaxy Nexus Launch
The widgets are now resizable and can be accessed directly from a tab in your app drawer very nice touch. Killing a running app or clearing an active notification is easy, just toss it away with one quick flick, very WebOS like.
There is a new People application that aggregates all your contact information along with all of their social network information. It’s like a repository for all of the information you have on a given contact in one place. You can even swipe within the People app and see that contacts most recent status updates. For Windows Phone 7 (WP7) users its like an evolved version of the people hub in that OS.
The other native Google apps have also been redesigned to take full advantage of ICS.
There are so many other design flourishes starting with a redesigned lock screen, Android Beaming, native ICS screenshots (Volume down +power), biometric scanning with face unlock, down to a redesigned keyboard and text entry. Covering those items in more detail will have to wait till I can get some hands on time with a device that has the new OS installed.
So when can we expect to see Ice Cream Sandwich made available for existing devices? In an interview at the AsiaD conference Googles SVP, of Mobile Andy Rubin put that schedule at “a couple of weeks after the Galaxy Nexus arrives on the market.” So the ICS update should be out by mid-December. In reality it will be up to the device manufacturers to determine what devices will be getting the update and how soon the updates will be made available . I will be surprised if we see the update on capable existing devices before late first quarter of 2012. I hope I’m wrong but the track record on these updates by most manufacturers has been less than stellar. I’ve been burned one too many times by “coming soon” and I’m getting a tad cynical.
The Galaxy Nexus
Google and Samsung officially announced the Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0 ICS coming to the US, Europe and Asia in November.
Initial impression: The phone size appears to be surprisingly manageable for a phone sporting a 4.65” screen, due to a nearly edge to edge display. The Galaxy Nexus appears to be a phone not a tablet with phone connectivity.
Galaxy Nexus – Main Features
- 1.2GHz dual-core processor
- 4.65-inch 1280×720 HD Super AMOLED display
- Android 4.0 Ice Cream
- Camera 5 MP AF with LED Flash zero shutter lag, 1.4 MP front for video calling. Redesigned camera with panorama mode, 1080p video, zero-shutter lag, silly faces and background replacement features
- Face Unlock: Facial recognition to unlock your phone
- Android Beam uses NFC to easily share content with other Android users with the bump of phones
- Pure Google Experience
- All the Google Apps from the Android Market and redesigned Google+ app
- 8.94mm thick, 4.29mm bezel
- HSPA+ 21Mbps connectivity 850/900/1900/1700/2100, Edge/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900. An LTE version will be available depending on the region.
- Available in USA, Europe, and Asia beginning in November and then rolled out globally
- Improved multi-tasking, notifications, Wi-Fi hotspot, NFC support, full web browsing
- People App with Google+ Integration