Dave Courbanou

October 21, 2011

3 Min Read
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Arrives with Robust Features

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has finally arrived with a bucketload of fresh features, user interface tweaks and a sexy flagship phone. But in this Android vs. iOS world, does this new version of Android set the stage for two completely different camps of mobile computing? Here’s the scoop and the perspective you can only get here …

Google has certainly given Android the overhaul it deserved. Every square inch of the operating system has been tweaked in some way, including a slick new UI and a brand new systemwide font. The Google-developed font is called “Roboto,” which tries to meld robotic stiffness with organic roundness. Google has also done away with physical navigation buttons. A-la Honeycomb, the buttons are now virtual and on-screen. Big updates include phone unlock via facial recognition, a multitasking system that lets users “swipe” between applications and, like iOS 5 before it, access to the camera from the lock screen. In addition, there’s (as suggested) better integration with Facebook, Twitter and Google+ with an enhanced sharing platform and native social networking-aggregating application. There’s also some automation features, including “Quick Response,” which allows users to instantly send a text to a missed call explaining why they can’t pick up. Google is also pushing NFC devices and now, besides Google Wallet, Ice Cream Sandwich also features “Android Beam,” a fancy way to share content and contacts with anyone else with an NFC Android device.

Google put a lot of polish in this one, and I’m impressed. Right now, the only device running Android 4.0 is the Google Galaxy Nexus, the flagship phone from Samsung. It’s the epitome of Android geekdom, with a dual-core CPU, a 4.3-inch screen and a 1280×720 resolution at 315 ppi. That’s a huge sharp screen, rivaling the iPhone.

But Google hasn’t gone a on a direct offensive against Apple. The company is happy with its Google Voice Actions and Voice Typing, but in no way wants to compete with Siri. In fact, according to CNET, Andy Rubin, the head of Google’s Android division, said:

“I don’t believe that your phone should be an assistant. You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone.”

And that’s what got me thinking. Perhaps Android and iOS are destined for different use cases entirely? The mobility space is becoming nearly religious. What do you believe in, The Church of Jobs, United Google Androidists or Temple Windows Phone 7? But in the next few years, the question could be, “What do you do in your daily life?” If you’re a busy person who interacts with people constantly, perhaps iOS 6 will offer a completely hands-off, verbal-type approach to accessing information and communicating with the people in your life. If you’re a hands-on person, Android 5.0 could be the ideal solution to micromanaging data, relationships and information in a way that iOS might obfuscate in the name of convenience.

But what’s your take? Is Android 4.0 the start of a departure or the polish Android needed all along? Let us know in the comments.


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