Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

Summary: Google and Samsung unveiled the latest flagship Android phone and operating system last night in Hong Kong. Both look very enticing, and a few surprises about them were divulged.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Google, Samsung
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Google and Samsung took the stage in Hong Kong last night and unveiled the latest offering from each of the companies. Samsung trotted out its Galaxy Nexus, the latest Android flagship phone and the first that will ship with Google's unveiled product, Android 4.0. Android 4.0 is Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), and it borrows heavily from other mobile platforms in its design.

As I watched the presentation, I noticed a few surprises that hadn't previously leaked out about the Galaxy Nexus and ICS.

Galaxy Nexus uses the TI OMAP4460 processor. This is unusual as Samsung makes its own processors, and has in fact claimed Apple infringes on Samsung's chipsets. It makes me wonder if the TI is a better performer under ICS, especially in the graphics area. Or perhaps Samsung is avoiding any future litigation from Apple by using this chipset from TI.

Android Beam is webOS Touch to Share. Google proudly showed off its Android Beam, which uses NFC to squirt stuff from one ICS phone to another by touching the backs of the two phones together. Google showed off sending contact information and web pages. This is the same technology demonstrated by HP early this year in its webOS press event. It was designed to send web pages from a webOS phone to a webOS tablet. Google looks to have broadened the types of information that can be sent by Android Beam.

Face unlock. This uses the front camera on the Galaxy Nexus (and likely all ICS-bearing phones) to unlock the phone without user intervention. The user shows the phone what the user looks like once, and then it recognizes the user and unlocks the phone as appropriate going forward. While it failed during Google's demo last night, the technology is actually quite mature and should work fine. IBM and Lenovo have included facial recognition software to unlock PCs for a decade.

People app. Android 4.0 has a new People app that scrapes all information about contacts into one app. It facilitates looking up contact information and having access to all online information for a given contact. It is possible to see the all social network updates for the contact in the app, a nice feature. This ability is similar to the Synergy technology in webOS, and live tiles in Windows Phone 7.

Folders on the home screen. ICS will allow users to drag one app icon on the homescreen onto another to automatically create folders for organizing apps. If this sounds like iOS, that is because it is very similar indeed.

Both the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 are major updates that should help both companies' efforts. ICS looks to be a solid update to the Android platform, although it is not clear how this will work with tablets. This version is the first to fully support both phones and tablets, so this tablet support will be critical for the success of the genre under Android. Google has stated that there should be no tablet-specific apps in ICS, rather all apps should work on both phones and larger devices. We'll have to see how that plays out.

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Topics: Mobility, Google, Samsung

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  • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

    Folders on the homescreen have been available on Android for quite some time. Before it was a little bit more complicated to make one (long press, select folder, drag apps into it) but it was definitely there - up until Honeycomb, for some reason, where it was completely removed. But you can use any 2.x Android phone and put a folder on the homescreen.
    slinky317
    • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

      @slinky317 That's true. Being able to drag one icon onto another to create a folder will be much nicer though. I am a little surprised they are including that though... especially Samsung, since I'm willing to bet it's just inviting another lawsuit from Apple, since iOS already has that feature. I don't know if Apple has it patented, but if they do, I would almost bet money Samsung will get a call from the Apple law team.
      waterhzrd
  • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

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  • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

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  • FaceUnlock looks cool when you hear about it, but when you actually have to

    ... hold your phone in the front of the face, it is nothing like PC's unlock when monitor sits on the table on its own. It is ergonomic failure. This is why Jobs was against this decision even though face recognition was done on iOS class hardware long time ago.
    DDERSSS
    • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

      @DeRSSS FaceUnlock is one of many unlock choices in ICS... face, pattern, pin, password... and you can pick and choose multiple ones... you do know about CHOICE, don't you??? Cause with the fascist walled garden of Jobs, it is easy to forget... BTW, ICS destroyed iPhone4S in browser benchmarks... oh my!!
      larryvand
    • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

      @DeRSSS
      Its just another lock type. Don't use it if you don't like it.
      deathjazz
  • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

    I think James resents Android because it all but made his precious WebOS worthless in the consumer space... I mean, after all no Android and you have to buy either Apple, Palm/HP or a Windows Phone Device which wasn't available when WebOS had a shot.
    slickjim
    • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

      @Peter Perry I don't resent Android at all. Don't presume to speak for me please. I have an Android phone and two Android tablets.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

        @JamesKendrick Oh you resent them alright... why else would you compare a 8 month old single core phone to a 2 day old dual core phone with a brand new OS... BTW, how's your iPhone4S doing with flash websites?Download them fast? ....browser benchmarks for Galaxy nexus and ICS show that the Galaxy Nexus beats quite handily the iPhone4S... and unlike the iPhone4S, can browse the whole web.... kind of pathetic that the iPhone4S has so many limitations... for a brand new phone with a 2 year contract... no 4G LTE, no 4G HSPA+21 or 42, no NFC, no flash, no live home screens, no live widgets, and on and on and on... but then again you know all that... why you don't write about them is another story....
        larryvand
      • You resent wasting your money

        @JamesKendrick Or the fact that others got the good free stuff and you only got the crapware.

        Hope, I'm just joking and not hitting a nail in the head.
        wackoae
      • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

        @larryvand, @peterperry
        You really should go back to the fanboi-infested Engadget with comments like this. We prefer to have grown-up discussions and present our points of view as adults. James has many times "defended" android (didnt he "win" a debate for android recently?) and simply says it as it is - based on his very wide range of experiences. It's called journalism - if you want to only hear what you agree with perhaps find an "Android Rulez" blog?
        Phenoum
    • Have you actually read his articles?

      @Peter Perry

      He frickin loves Android phones and WebOS tablets. I don't think I've ever read him gushing on WebOS phones before, but I could be wrong.
      Michael Alan Goff
  • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

    "...and has in fact claimed Apple infringes on Samsung???s chipsets. Or perhaps Samsung is avoiding any future litigation from Apple by using this chipset from TI."

    I don't follow this. If Samsung makes a chipset, and claims Apple is infringing on it, then why would they have to use someone else's chipset to avoid future litigation from Apple? Did I miss the point?
    waterhzrd
  • RE: Android 4.0 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus unveiled: 5 surprises

    "This is the same technology demonstrated by HP early this year in its webOS press event."

    No it isn't - it makes use of the induction coil in the TP and Pre to kick off the handshake between devices. The application of NFC to send information between two devices was patented and demoed three maybe four years ago - this is simply just the commercial application of that patent.
    Alfred Smithe