Print 46 comment(s) - last by xxeonn.. on Oct 22 at 11:46 AM

Google tries to stay a step ahead of Apple

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) and Google, Inc. (GOOG) are racing neck and neck when it comes to the smart phone platform war.  Apple's iPhone 4S just launched last Friday, setting sales records.  But Google's Android enjoys a healthy lead over Apple, thanks to its broad lineup of devices from multiple manufacturers.

Yesterday at a long-awaited special event, Google unveiled the Galaxy Nexus smartphone by Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO 005930).  That phone came packing a brand new operating system -- Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich".  

Past Google smartphone operating systems have only been targeted at one kind of device -- e.g Android 2.2 "Frozen Yogurt" target smartphones, as did Android 2.3 "Gingerbread", while Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" targeted tablets.  Unlike its predecessors, Ice Cream Sandwich's goal is ubiquity.  It merges the Honeycomb and Gingerbread code trees, offering a single OS for all Android mobile devices.

Andy Rubin (right) chats with AllThingsD's Walt Mossberg.
Android Chief Andy Rubin introduces Ice Cream Sandwich at All Things D's AsiaD conference.

With the new operating system Google is making several important changes and improvements.

Ice Cream Sandwich includes:
Ice Cream Sandwich Face Unlock
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich [Source: Google]
  • Deeper design minimalism, with physical buttons replaced with on-screen icons.
  • Lock screen notifications.
  • Android Beam, a NFC feature that shares web links or content, when you tap to Ice Cream Sandwich devices together.
  • Redesigned, scrollable multi-tasking screen.
  • App and shortcut group via dragging icons on top of each other.
  • Improved Mail app with ability to create nested subfolders.
  • Improved voice commands via a constantly "on" microphone.
  • Improved Camera app with "zero" shutter lag, and time lapse settings.
  • A new built-in Internet app with up to 16 tabs and syncing with desktop Chrome bookmarks.
  • The option to disable apps
The biggest addition is clearly the home screen facial unlock, but ultimately the fact that the market will now have one operating system for both tablets and smartphones is probably the most important story of Google's new operating system.

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By fuzzlefizz on 10/19/11, Rating: 0
By web2dot0 on 10/19/11, Rating: 0
By Tequilasunriser on 10/19/2011 6:18:44 PM , Rating: 3
NFC chips will become as standard as gyroscopes in smart phones.

Mark my words.

By sleepeeg3 on 10/19/2011 8:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
The SGSII has it.

By ScotterQX6700 on 10/20/2011 2:16:43 AM , Rating: 2
Samsung Nexus S has had NFC since it came out in November 2010.

Deeper design minimalism...
By masamasa on 10/19/2011 7:35:26 PM , Rating: 3
"Deeper design minimalism, with physical buttons replaced with on-screen icons."

Here comes the lawsuit.

By Stephen! on 10/20/2011 5:46:26 PM , Rating: 2
Google's Android enjoys a healthy lead over Apple, thanks to its broad lineup of devices from multiple manufacturers.

Google should probably have the advantage now, given that Steve Jobs is gone and Apple's ability to innovate is potentially diminished.

By kleinma on 10/19/11, Rating: -1
RE: really?
By retrospooty on 10/19/2011 9:29:49 AM , Rating: 2
This tech has been around on laptops for years. It doesnt work to hold a picture, I assume it's the same tech here.

To me the biggest thing is "Redesigned, scrollable multi-tasking screen."

RE: really?
By Suomynona on 10/19/2011 9:31:02 AM , Rating: 2
How did you come to that conclusion? Did you not read the rest of the article?

RE: really?
By kleinma on 10/19/11, Rating: -1
RE: really?
By rburnham on 10/19/2011 11:00:35 AM , Rating: 3
Congratulations on being unable to think for yourself.

RE: really?
By wiz220 on 10/19/2011 11:46:01 AM , Rating: 1
In the immortal words of Dr. House:

RE: really?
By gwidionx on 10/19/2011 1:19:37 PM , Rating: 2
It would be cool if they used a Kinect like technology to do face recognition. Not only optical camera but depth sensor. I'll bet that would be hard to trick.

RE: really?
By fteoath64 on 10/20/2011 2:18:58 AM , Rating: 2
Not really, most phone has a "proximity sensor". It is a matter of calibrating this sensor to handle a max of 6 feet distance and match the face recognition software to lock the focus. eg pair of eyes.

Would be certainly cool. I would like to see gesture recognition in a skype call for vol_Up, Vol_Dn , and video_Off hand gestures.

RE: really?
By Tequilasunriser on 10/19/2011 6:21:20 PM , Rating: 2
Gee, maybe you should read the ICS press release.

A lot more was done than just adding a face unlock lol. Honestly, I feel that the unlock feature is the LEAST important of the updates.

RE: really?
By Sazabi19 on 10/19/2011 9:34:23 AM , Rating: 5
It will be the biggest update on iOS 6 and everyone will think it's magic and inovative, I mean seriously, now you can talk to your iPhone and it will talk back, think of what will happen when it can see you and recognize you too!? iTards won't even need boyfriends/girlfriends now!

RE: really?
By Capt Caveman on 10/19/11, Rating: -1
RE: really?
By invidious on 10/19/2011 11:09:13 AM , Rating: 5
First of all IOS is a horrendous OS for a tablet. It limits the iPad to being nothing more than an oversized iPod Touch. Honeycomb's OS capabilities are years ahead of of the iPad's.

Second, no one is saying Android is pioneering anything by combining the OS of multiple platforms. Good job jumping on the defensive about it though.

RE: really?
By Mitch101 on 10/19/11, Rating: 0
RE: really?
By bug77 on 10/19/2011 1:44:15 PM , Rating: 2
Afaik, ICS and later will have the requirement for at least 18 months of mandatory updates. Still not ideal, but much better than the status quo.

RE: really?
By gwidionx on 10/19/2011 1:21:55 PM , Rating: 2
I'm SO glad to see the quick app closing via the multitasking slider. Its starting to get more WebOS, which is a good thing. iOS could use better multitasking controls.

RE: really?
By B3an on 10/19/2011 11:08:59 AM , Rating: 4
while Apple has had that since the beginning

When the iPad came out the iPhone and iPad didn't use the same iOS version until later, you silly little iTard.

RE: really?
By Tony Swash on 10/19/11, Rating: 0
RE: really?
By web2dot0 on 10/19/2011 6:16:25 PM , Rating: 2
What's wrong with Siri technology? It's a step towards the right direction. You can't build Rome in a day buddy. It'll take many iterations and refinements before it achieves the "holy grail", but in the meantime, I think the technology is usable.

If you don't like the technology, you don't have to use it. That's why it's called a "feature".

I don't understand why you think everyone using Apple products are iTards. Without iPad, Google wouldn't be working so hard to trying to catch up. It's a good thing for the industry because competition spears innovation.

If Android is so great and bleeding edge, where were they before iPad/iPhone first came out? Everyone thought iPad and iPhone are duds when it first came out. Too expensive, too x,y,z .... but who got the last laugh? Someone is laughing all the way to the bank, and it's not you.

Give Apple the credit they deserved.

RE: really?
By amanojaku on 10/19/2011 9:36:54 AM , Rating: 4
The author did a poor job of listing the features. I wasn't impressed, either, so I looked it up. Here's what I got from Engaget; the last feature is probably the best:

Option to use virtual buttons in the UI, instead of taking up capacitive touch buttons
Widgets are in a new tab, listed in a similar list to apps
Folders are much easier to create, with a drag-and-drop style similar to iOS
A customizable launcher
New phone app with visual voicemail functionality that lets you speed up or slow down voicemail messages
Pinch-to-zoom functionality in the calendar
Gmail has offline search, a two-line preview, and new action bar at the bottom
Swipe left or right to switch between Gmail conversations
Integrated screenshot capture by holding power and volume down buttons
Improved error correction on the keyboard
Ability to access apps directly from lock screen (similar to HTC Sense 3.x)
Improved copy and paste
Better voice integration
Face Unlock, a facial recognition service
New tabbed web browser, allowing up to 16 tabs
Browser now automatically syncs your Chrome bookmarks
Modern "Roboto" font
Data Usage section in settings lets you set warnings when you reach a certain amount of use and disabling data when you go over your limit
Ability to kill off apps that are using data in the background
Camera app: zero shutter lag, time lapse settings, zoom while recording
Built-in photo editor
New gallery layout, organized by location and person
Refreshed people app with social network integration, status updates and hi-res images
Android Beam, a NFC feature that lets you exchange websites, contact info, directions, YouTube, etc.
Don't like some of those preloaded carrier apps? Disable 'em. Android Engineer Dan Morrill mentions that, among other new features, any app can be disabled, and while it will still take up space in ROM, it won't be snatching any of your precious resources or clock cycles again if you don't want it to.

RE: really?
By cjohnson2136 on 10/19/2011 9:43:01 AM , Rating: 2
That last feature is really nice. I am sure carriers are not to thrilled with it but whatever.

RE: really?
By Omega215D on 10/19/2011 10:19:53 AM , Rating: 3
The carriers can go F* themselves. I caught a lot of these preloaded apps running without me ever using the damn thing.

Of course Sprint is exempt from this because from what I hear you can already do this on their phones. Shame that they lack the coverage I need from Verizon otherwise I would've been there in a heart beat.

RE: really?
By cjohnson2136 on 10/19/2011 11:37:20 AM , Rating: 5
You do know even if you are not in Sprint area and are roaming you roam off Verizon and Sprint does not charge extra for roaming. The no roaming fees was one of the reasons why I switched.

RE: really?
By Omega215D on 10/19/2011 11:50:43 AM , Rating: 2
I am aware but it still wasn't as reliable when I did a trial with them. I tend to be in odd fringe areas, like places where they hold rally races for example. I'm just happy to be grandfathered into my unlimited plan and on LTE. Never did like WiMax.

RE: really?
By cjohnson2136 on 10/19/2011 12:32:12 PM , Rating: 2
Ahh ok. I am just on a feature phone so I don't really care about the LTE or WiMax because it doesn't affect me. But my area that I am in a majority of the time has excellent coverage.

RE: really?
By jimbojimbo on 10/19/2011 5:31:59 PM , Rating: 2
Verizon is the worst of them! How many apps are on my Droid 3 that by default you can't uninstall and also keep starting up on their own every time you reboot? They all suck too.

RE: really?
By ihateu3 on 10/19/2011 5:38:39 PM , Rating: 2
Lets not forget about the new panorama shot like in HTC sense!

RE: really?
By Da W on 10/19/2011 9:52:35 AM , Rating: 2
The last big "killer" feature was Wi-fi hotspot in fro-yo. Since then i think the smartphone OSes are pretty mature. What else can you ask your phone to do?

RE: really?
By B3an on 10/19/2011 11:11:35 AM , Rating: 3
I want the feature: "Get it the kitchen and make me a sandwich"

RE: really?
By Nacho on 10/19/2011 1:34:18 PM , Rating: 2
What? Make one yourself.

RE: really?
By Ralos on 10/19/2011 1:44:46 PM , Rating: 5
sudo "Get it the kitchen and make me a sandwich"

RE: really?
By gladiatorua on 10/19/2011 3:01:40 PM , Rating: 2
Password for Ralos:

RE: really?
By bug77 on 10/19/2011 11:12:03 AM , Rating: 2
My laundry?

RE: really?
By geddarkstorm on 10/19/2011 12:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
Walk the dog?

RE: really?
By niaaa on 10/19/2011 1:13:46 PM , Rating: 4
do my wife

RE: really?
By bigdawg1988 on 10/19/2011 3:34:15 PM , Rating: 2
Wait, what!?!

RE: really?
By troysavary on 10/20/2011 7:02:08 AM , Rating: 4
Phone can already do that. Just set them to "vibrate".

RE: really?
By xxeonn on 10/22/2011 11:46:19 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah for real! When you call and she doesn't answer, keep calling she will love it. :D

By Tony Swash on 10/19/11, Rating: -1
RE: Roboto
By troysavary on 10/20/2011 7:06:18 AM , Rating: 1
Not that I would ever defend Google myself, but aren't you grasping at straws to find a problem with Android here?

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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