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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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!

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs

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