Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Google Galaxy Nexus are unveiled (and it's coming to Canada)!

The culmination of roughly a year's worth of development, leaks and rumours has finally materialized into the next iteration of Android and the Nexus line. In Hong Kong, Google and Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Nexus the flagship phone to which every other upcoming Android phone will look to match and exceed to push the platform forward and also unleashed Android 4.0 codename Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of Android that will power the Galaxy Nexus.

The Google Galaxy Nexus by Samsung
The phone with which to carry the Nexus line forward has been the subject of many leaks and rumours over the past few month and really rivaled the hype machine behind a competing platform's flagship device. Finally it's here, the Galaxy Nexus.

Let's dive right in and check out the specs:

- 1.2Ghz TI OMAP 4460 dual-core processor
- PowerVR SGX540 GPU
- 16/32GB internal storage (no microSD slot)
- 4.65-inch 720p Super AMOLED HD display
- 1750mAh battery
- 5MP camera w/ LED flash, 1080p video capture
- Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi (b/g/n), NFC, GPS
- Accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, barometer
- HSPA+ 21mbps connectivity or LTE (depending on region)

Now of course these specs aren't going to wow the pants off of you, but they certainly are no slouch. As far as internals are concerned, the 1.2Ghz TI OMAP 4460 is a nice upgrade over the single core Hummingbird of the Nexus S. 1GB of RAM and 16/32GB of storage is somewhat of the norm. The GPU is a bit of a letdown as it's the same one in the Nexus S and Galaxy S devices. We would have liked to see maybe the MALI-400 in the Galaxy S II or the SGX543MP2 (although seeing how tight Imageon, the makers of the SGX line of GPUs, and Apple are, we're not surprised it DIDN'T happen).

As for the camera(s) it will be a matter of time before we see how good they are from third party pictures and videos but from leaks and the demo today it looks good (and if there would be a time not to judge a camera by the number of mega pixels it's right now).

It will be interesting to see if the 4.65 inch behemoth screen goes too far. But the 720p ultra high res and ultra high pixel density Super AMOLED HD screen is really a huge selling point.

As far as connectivity is concerned, you have the bevy of usual interfaces; Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC, GPS. As well as the usual sensors plus a barometer (we'll have to see how useful that is). For network connectivity the 21.1mbps HSPA+ isn't surprising but from initial reports it seems like the Canadian version won't have LTE (Yes! It's coming to Canada! More on that later). When they mentioned LTE would be included in some regions we assume they meant Verizon only, much like the RAZR announced earlier today.

Android 4.0 - Ice Cream Sandwich

The software part of the unveiling was really the meat and potatoes of the press event as it really was the true star of the show. Touting a tons of new features and a completely revamped UI, ICS is really that big step forward for Android that we had been waiting for and expected it to be.

For a really comprehensive description of ALL the features I REALLY recommend heading over to the Android Developer Site. But if that's TLDR for you here's a short list of the features announced;

  • Refined, evolved UI
  • New Virtual navigation Buttons
  • Action bar replacing contextual menu button
  • Home screen folders and favorites tray
  • Resizable widgets
  • New lock screen actions
  • Quick responses for incoming calls
  • Swipe to dismiss notifications, tasks, and browser tabs
  • Improved text input and spell-checking
  • Powerful voice input engine
  • Control over network data
  • Improved People/Contact organization
  • Unified calendar, visual voicemail
  • Rich and versatile camera capabilities
  • Redesigned Gallery app with photo editor
  • Live Effects for transforming video
  • Sharing with screenshots
  • Powerful web browsing
  • Improved email
  • Android Beam for NFC-based sharing
  • Face Unlock
Also worth noting, hardware acceleration has been something that Android enthusiasts have been lusting for (and really green with envy from iOS and WP7) and it seems like it is included in ICS. We're surprised Google didn't explicitly tout it as a feature.

It will be launching in Canada!
For many, this is the best news of the night, we seemingly have confirmation that the Canada will be a launch country for the Galaxy Nexus
Starting in November, Galaxy Nexus will be available in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Check out the Nexus website for a product tour and more info. 

What if I already have an Android Device, will I get Ice Cream Sandwich? 
As per usual, the many Android owners are asking whether their device will get the upgrade or not. Engadget was fortunate to have a talk with Gabe Cohen from Google and he said the Nexus S IS definitely getting ICS and that most Android 2.3 equipped devices should be capable of supporting it. It seems like it's once a gain to the discretion of carriers and manufacturers. As far as the Nexus One is concerned there are no clear plans just yet.

If I were to use the HTC Desire and Nexus One upgrade to Gingerbread as a barometer, I'd hedge bets that it's the end of the line for official updates on the Nexus One (most likely because of memory/internal storage constraints). That being said, there surely will be a ROM available anyways by the great Android modder community.

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