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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

  1. Instant capture – no more waiting for the camera to take a picture and missing that magic moment
  2. Rapid picture capture – the live demonstration showed 4 photos taken in around 3 – 4 seconds
  3. 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
  • Documents
  • and most impressive

  • 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

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!

Source: Android DevelopersGoogle Nexus.
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    Tim Marshall

    most importantly of all, howd we go for hardware acceleration ? are we there yet? me = android lover but I’d be hard pressed to name a less CPU efficient mobile operating system.

    LLerrad Reham

    I spent about 600mb watching the release. wasn’t surprised the news stations didn’t report a single thing from google or samsung.

    Plenty of things i liked about ics. data tracker, swipe away notification, notification under lock, a better and easier access apps most used and favorites that can be removed with a swipe. it was pretty cool and now i wonder what samsung will do with its new touchwiz 5 on the next Galaxy. But until then please give me ICS on the SGSII.

    Buzz Moody

    Spending data like money? Sweet. I watched it and wanted the 57minutes of my life back. It was good, but… not that good.


    There wasn’t a feature presented today that I wasn’t impressed with, bar maybe the Facelock(wouldnt use it anyway)

    Great to see some uniformity and an impressive UI heading to Android after so long. I would have liked to see a run though of all the redesigned apps (Dialer, Music, etc) but that will come as hands on start popping up more.
    Just waiting now for the Music store announcement and then Google will be taking the crown in my book.

    Buzz Moody

    Oh god! This.

    Justin Harvey

    face unlock looks the goods

    video demohttp://www.engadget.com/2011/10/19/ice-cream-sandwich-face-unlock-demo-video/


    II was not disappointed at all with ics.. Sure i would have liked to have seen eg. The Google music store, and have source code drop dates and more info about release dates for both ics and galaxy nexus… I have seen some people disappointed with the gpu in it with it being old or something but i don’t playmany games so it doesn’t affect me much… I think this device is going to be huge and the development on it is going to explode as it did for the nexus 1… So many people and developers have already said… Read more »

    Milty C

    There’s talk online that the galaxy nexus has a somewhat under-powered graphics chip especially when compared to the iphone4s and other new phones. Can anyone confirm this ? There is a lot of BS online so im not sure what too think. I will probably still buy the thing anyway, but im still curious too know. It would be disappointing to have such a large gaming phone lacking in this regard.


    Data usage tracker sounds very handy. The new cantact app will be cool. Hope this is ported to the gs2 soon, or even better will be cyanogen release of ICS

    Nick S

    Certainly an impressive list of features. Soon to upgrade from original galaxy s

    Mark Blackman

    Here’s hoping this will come to the Galaxy S2!!


    What is the upgrade path for existing phones?

    Phil Tann

    Nexus S confirmed for upgrade – Expectation is all Gingerbread devices will get an upgrade.


    Most excellent. 

    So it should also work on my HTC Desire Z but I’ll miss out on Beam and face unlock unless it will work on rear camera too.

    Probably won’t get it for another six month knowing HTC. -_-

    Darren White

    Release date ?? did I miss it.

    Arv Paddy

    This blows the iPhone 4S out of the water!


    Wow indeed, makes me want a Galaxy Nexus even sooner.


    Hey, at least one AU site was covering this live.

    All those whom covered the iLaunch have been absolutely silent. 😉

    Thanks for the wrap up, though; always good to see what others think.

    ICS is love.