A Nexus Of Ideas
Today was the launch of one the most historic mobile Operating Systems EVER. And along with that, one of the best Android smartphones, till date. Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and the Galaxy Nexus. The Galaxy Nexus is going to be Google’s flagship phone. I am EXTREMELY excited about this phone! Ice Cream Sandwich is one small step for Google, a giant leap for Android.
The Galaxy Nexus will obviously be running Ice Cream Sandwich. This new OS has a very nice feel to it. It looks crisper and cleaner. Makes me wonder if they’ve taken inspiration from Microsoft’s Windows Phones. Ice Cream Sandwich looks radically new but, an Android enthusiast will feel right at home with it. It looks like Google has married two of their best iterations (Gingerbread & Honeycomb) and this is their baby.
The Galaxy Nexus is the phone to have. It’s the best Android phone in the market,as of now.This device, like all other devices of the Nexus series, is a no-bloatware one. It is absolutely free of all carrier & manufacturer software, which is a major plus point for it.
The Galaxy Nexus is a 8.84 mm thin smartphone featuring a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor with a 1 GB RAM, which makes the functioning as smooth as butter on a hot knife.
The Galaxy Nexus has a saliva-inducing 4.65 inch HD Super-AMOLED screen, which has a 1280 X 720 resolution. The display is the brightest ever and in my opinion beats the hell out of the Retina Display.
There’s no surprise here but, Ice Cream Sandwich’s native resolution is 1280 X 720. So, all the images rendered are going to be ‘picture perfect’. Watching High Definition movies on this device is surely going to be sexy as hell.
The Galaxy Nexus has the usual accoutrements that a modern smartphone has. And, more. The Galaxy Nexus has an unusual new feature- a barometer. This piece of hardware is really going to be taken advantage of using specific applications built especially for it.
The camera of the Galaxy Nexus is going to be slightly disappointing. It has a 5 megapixel rear camera (with LED flash) and a 1.3 megapixel front camera, suitable for video calling. The camera features zero shutter-lag, auto focus and a top-notch low-light performance. I would’ve loved a 8-megapixel camera, though. Something to show the Apple Fanboys. But, we’ll leave that for another Nexus. 🙂
Android Beam is a brilliant new feature which takes full advantage of the NFC chip in the Galaxy Nexus. A video, contact, application (Market link, not apk), directions etc can be shared by a simple tap with another NFC-enabled phone.
With Ice Cream Sandwich, comes better multi-tasking, a cooler notification bar, even more customizable home-screen, resizable widgets and many more features. Ice Cream Sandwich also brings with it a new font called Roboto, which should not be mistaken with the popular Android game. Roboto, in fact, is a brand new font (or typeface, whatever you want to call it). The font is optimized for better readability and looks quite polished.
The UI will be familiar to people owning Honeycomb tablets. The icons are heavily borrowed from Google’s previous OS. The virtual buttons are- Back, Home & Recent Apps.
Every application will also have an Action Bar by which you can access the application’s menu, settings etc.
Multitasking has never been so visually appealing and alluring on a mobile device before! As soon as the Recent Apps capacitive button is pressed, a very Honeycomb- like list of recent apps is shown. Thumbnails of recent apps are shown & users can switch from one app to the other instantaneously.
The notifications have also been revamped quite a bit. Swiping across the notification will banish it for later viewing, so to say. The same can also be said for the recent apps list. Swiping across the application’s thumbnail will remove it from the list. The music player can finally be accessed via the notification bar. Real time updates have also been added.
The home screen has become even more customizable than in the previous versions of Android. Widgets have become resizable so that users can adjust the amount of space each application’s widget occupies. The widgets can help the user access email, videos, music, news etc at just one glance., without having to go to that specific app, unlike another popular mobile OS. Folders can be made by dragging an app icon on top of another app’s icon. The folder can then be renamed. A nifty feature which has been added is that the bottom tray now supports folders. So, you can pin your favourite contacts or games, as a folder, to your bottom tray, where you can access it easily.
Another nice change is done to the lockscreen. Apart from looking beautiful, as usual, there’s a slider from which the user can access the camera instantly. The notification window can also be accessed without unlocking the device. If you’re listening to music, you can see the music information on your lockscreen.
With the advent of all these features, the device’s main functionality is almost lost. Google’s latest OS is also capable of calling and texting.
It does so beautifully. The incoming and outgoing call screens are quite minimalistic and simple to understand. A new feature has been introduced here, as well. If the user cannot pick up the incoming call, the user can slide the icon towards the text message icon and the call is terminated immediately to bring up an array of changeable default text messages. The user can select one and can send it to the user, so as to not hurt his/her feelings. Very thoughtful, Google. Very thoughtful, indeed.
The voice input system has also been improved a lot. Though it’s certainly not as powerful as Siri, it gets the job done. A new voice engine has been implemented, which lets users dictate the text for as long as they want, using the language that they want. Punctuation can be dictated and prolonged speech and pauses are supported. Dictation errors are underlined and can be corrected via text or speech.
Data mongers can now rejoice because Ice Cream Sandwich now has an inbuilt feature by which the user’s data usage can be tracked and controlled. The application/s which access the most amount of data in the background can be restricted and the OS can also cut off the device’s data connection once the data limit is reached. All this is optional, of course.
A very cool new feature is the Face Unlock. The device can now be unlocked via face recognition. An app called Visidon Applock from the Market does that already. But, the OS’ ingrained ability is a plus point and is going to make Visidon’s developers weep.
The camera app and the contacts app have also received quite a few facelifts. Quite an advanced photo editor has been added and it does its job quite exceptionally well. The contacts application has now been renamed as ‘People’. When one of the contacts is clicked upon, the contact’s SNS history is shown in one tab and the contact details in another. The contact’s SNS history is synced with his/her Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn accounts.
A welcome new ability in Ice Cream Sandwich is Screen Capture. Users have to press the Volume Down + Power button to capture a screenshot which is then saved to the Gallery. Quite an useful addition, which is again going to make the developers of ‘ScreenShot It!’ weep with misery.
Ice Cream Sandwich is reportedly going to run on all devices which support Android 2.3 and Android 3.0! The Nexus S is reportedly going to receive the upgrade first, since it’s a Google phone. The updates for other devices will follow.
All in all, this phone and this OS is one of the best around and it’s really going to POUND the iPhone 4S. Hopefully.