WOW, Just WOW! What a release, it has pretty much everything that people wanted out of Ice Cream Sandwich.
After Samsung launched the Galaxy Nexus, Google’s Gig hitters (as you would expect) opened the show for Android starting with Andy Rubin who confirmed the release of Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich
Matias Duarte – Director of Android OS introduced us to Android 4.0 by outlining what Google wanted to do and achieve with Ice Cream Sandwich.
A mobile phone OS should
- Enchant me
- Simplify my life
- Make me awesome
Obviously due to the first ICS device being the Galaxy Nexus, there is a bit of crossover between device and OS at this time. The display properties for instance, Ice Cream Sandwich is designed to work with 1280 x 720 native resolution with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio, perfect for digital media such as “legally obtained” movies. Coincidentally, these match that of the Galaxy Nexus perfectly.
User Interaction with the OS:
For starters, there’s a new lock screen which can be done by normal swipe to unlock, pin (if you prefer a more secure phone) or by face unlock. The concept itself is not foreign or new, but the application inside the Android OS is. Great idea, like so many other people I’m yet to see it work due to its unfortunate failure during the presentation.
Contacts are no longer just “contacts” it’s morphed into People which is clearly Google’s way of showing that Android is part of your life and connects you with the people in your life. The phone recognizes “me” as a person and you can fill in your own details including your twitter, Facebook, linked in, buzz and other social networking handles and links you to your people. Similar to Friend Stream in HTC Sense and the Contapps application, people shows you the most recent posts from your friends social networking streams inside their contact details which can be a great way to stay connected.
One of the new additions to the phone interface is the quick response, where previously your options were: Answer or Reject incoming calls, you now have quick response too which composes what appears to be a template response including the person’s name and sends it rather than simply rejecting the call. Giving them acknowledgement of their call, and you the freedom to call back when you’re able to.
Other User Interface additions include
- Gestures standardised across the entire platform
- Create folders by dropping icons on top of each other, this includes for contacts
- Favorites tray can be added to, including folders
- Face unlock
- New Android Browser (not Chrome) that includes tabbed browsing and supports Chrome Bookmark Sync
- Notifications can be accessed at the bottom of the screen without unlocking the phone
- Notifications can be swiped away, rather than clearing “all or nothing” of your active notifications
- As I already posted – Native screen capture in ICS
The new camera: On paper may disappoint some due to it’s relatively low 5MP rating, however the demo shows it’s capabilities.
Three things impressed me about the new camera interface
- Instant capture – no more waiting for the camera to take a picture and missing that magic moment
- Rapid picture capture – the live demonstration showed 4 photos taken in around 3 – 4 seconds
- Video based panorama capture – Using a full motion video scan you can capture a still motion panorama
The new gallery looks great, very easy to search and find what you’re looking for. You have the option to sort by geotag, people in photo’s, dates and albums. Any pictures can be instantly shared via their new sharing add-on which uses the obvious: G+, Twitter, Gmail etc.
Moving onto the video capture at 1080P, I was hesitant at first due to the camera only being 5MP but the proof is in the pudding, or in this case… The demo video! They’ve got some clever software offering continuous focus throughout the video rather than a fixed focal length that many phone camera’s have, time-lapse support and quite impressively still camera shots can be taken while recording a video stream.
Ever had bill shock because you used a bit too much data? I know a lot of people who have!
ICS gives you the option to create warnings based around your billing cycle in the Data Usage section. This tracks and graphs how much data you have used vs the data you have available to you, gives you the options to set the threshold you wish to get notifications at or simply cut off data before you reach that cap all native to the OS. This can also be broken down by app, cutting off only certain one’s from collecting data until the billing cycle resets. This alone got a +1 from me.
Android Beam was without a doubt, the show stopper!
Utilizing the NFC chip in the Galaxy Nexus, Android beam can transfer any data between compatible ICS devices. Simply touch the two devices together (back to back) and tap the screen of the transmitting phone, instantly the second phone will receive the data. This can range from
- Contact Information – Full contact cards or “chips”
- Maps and Locations
- App or Game links – When sharing a game or app that the receiving phone does not have, they’re instantly taken to the market page for that app or game
and most impressive
Closing the show, it was mentioned that for those of you who are development inclined the SDK is now available at http://developer.android.com which seemed to make their page explode. It’s back online now though so GO GO GO!