Google has formally revealed Ice Cream Sandwich, also known as Android 4.0, alongside the first handset to use it, the Samsung-made Galaxy Nexus.
Google has formally unveiled the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, alongside Samsung's Galaxy Nexus smartphone. Photo credit: Aloysius Low/CNET Asia
Ice Cream Sandwich, unveiled on Tuesday, is in the unusual
situation of being a direct successor to two separate versions of
Android: 'Gingerbread' version 2.4, and 'Honeycomb' version 3.0.
Gingerbread is a smartphone OS, and Honeycomb is for tablets only, but Ice Cream Sandwich is intended to reunify the overall Android experience.
"With Ice Cream Sandwich, our mission was to build a mobile OS that
works on both phones and tablets, and to make the power of Android
enticing and intuitive," Google mobile chief Andy Rubin wrote
in a blog post. "We created a new font that's optimised for HD
displays and eliminated all hardware buttons in favour of adaptable
Google has made widgets resizable in Ice Cream Sandwich, and has refreshed the
designs of the Gmail and Calendar apps. The Android browser has also
been revamped, offering a new tab manager, private browsing and
bookmark synchronisation with the desktop Chrome browser.
The Contacts facility is now the People app, which features
integrated updates from Google+ and other "social services", Rubin
The company has introduced features that make use of
recent Android handsets' near-field
communications (NFC) capabilities. A function called Android Beam
lets people "instantly share web pages, YouTube videos, maps, directions
and apps by simply tapping two phones together", Rubin added.
Google's mobile chief made the big Ice Cream Sandwich announcement alongside
Samsung in Hong Kong. The Korean company will have the first device to
run Android 4.0, the Galaxy Nexus.
line is traditionally used to showcase the latest version of
Google's mobile operating system in its stock form, without
manufacturer customisation. Samsung made Galaxy Nexus's
predecessor, the Nexus
S, which was the first device to run Gingerbread.
The Galaxy Nexus has a 4.65-inch screen that is larger than the
4-inch screen of the Nexus S but retains its predecessor's
face-fitting curvature. Resolution has seen a significant upgrade from
480 x 800 pixels to 1280 x 720 pixels, more commonly referred to as
720p high definition (HD) — this is the native resolution of
Ice Cream Sandwich, bringing a tablet-grade pixel count to a much smaller screen.
Samsung's new device also has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, and
comes with either '4G' LTE or HSPA+ connectivity, depending on which
standard has been rolled out in the buyer's country.
The phone has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a
1.3-megapixel front-facing alternative for video-calling and for unlocking the device — a new feature in Ice Cream Sandwich called Face Unlock
lets the owner access the OS by smiling at their handset.
According to Google, the Galaxy Nexus will go on sale in Europe,
North America and Asia from November.
The company has not yet indicated when Ice Cream Sandwich will become available as
an upgrade for existing Gingerbread handsets. Based on precedent, it
should be pushed out over-the-air to the Nexus S first, as Nexus
phones have a direct link back to Google and do not need to wait for
manufacturer customisation in order to receive OS version
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