Google, Samsung unveil Android 4.0-based Galaxy Nexus

Google and Samsung unveil new details about the first device to run the next version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich) live from Hong Kong.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

As announced last week, Google and Samsung held a special media event in Hong Kong dedicated to Android 4.0, a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich.

But more than that, the companies that previously partnered on the Samsung Google Nexus S unveiled the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, running on the newest version of Android -- the first optimized for both tablets and smartphones at the same time.

The dual-core processor powered device, which has been designed for both HSPA+ and LTE networks depending on market locale and consumer demand, is touted by Samsung execs to offer the "defining premium user experience."

That starts with the color, 4.65-inch HD, Super AMOLED contoured display, which Kevin Packingham of Samsung Mobile boasted has more colors than any TV available today.

Google's senior vice president of mobile Andy Rubin was also on hand for the event, and he touted that the Galaxy Nexus was created based on three principles: simplicity, beauty, and "going beyond smart." He added that that the Galaxy Nexus should act like "your cell phone acting on your behalf" thanks to the power of the cloud.

Previously referred to as the Nexus Prime, the Galaxy Nexus is 4.29mm thin with a soft, textured Hyperskin grip material on the backside. Packingham asserted that while the screen is larger than any smartphone we've seen before, the Galaxy Nexus will fit naturally in the hand and feel "weightless."

That display really does blur the boundaries between smartphones and tablets as the Galaxy Nexus features a buttonless-design on the front -- meaning that this phone drops the usual three or four buttons we typically see on Android handhelds. Instead, those buttons are integrated into the Ice Cream Sandwich UI, and the icons can rotate or even hide, especially when watching videos.

As far as Ice Cream Sandwich goes, the UI changes truly start with a brand new start/unlock screen. But beyond that, the most notable new feature is Face Unlock, which essentially is a face recognition security feature that literally knows the user's face.

Although this didn't work out much during the demo presentation at the HK event, such a feature could prove more useful that Apple's Siri, which, although in beta mode still, is still riddled with errors and confusing responses for the most part.

Again, Face Unlock will only prove useful if it actually works in practice, so maybe both of these revolutionary functions (Siri and Face Unlock) need some time to develop.

Pricing will depend on the region and carrier, but the Galaxy Nexus will start shipping in November. However, the SDK for Ice Cream Sandwich is available immediately.


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