Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A tasty dessert: Galaxy Nexus and ICS

Today's post will finally have some pretty geek photos and thoughts on Google's Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich.  This last month I broke down and got a Samsung Galaxy Nexus via Google's Play Store. Its unlocked and works on both AT&T and T-Mobile USA 3G and is of course a pure vanilla Android experience. I'll chat about the overal ICS experience and also my quick thoughts thus far on my Galaxy Nexus (hint: i love it!).

Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich is basically's Google stopgap for the mobile phone OS's fragmentation (Google has so many devices running various versions of Android from 2.1 (Eclair) to 2.2 (Froyo) to 2.3.x(Gingerbread) to tablets on 3.x (Honeycomb).  ICS seeks to bring them all together and also aims to unify the OS itself and its various UI elements and overall feel and design.

I've used Android since my first device, Google Nexus One.  Comparing 2.1 (Eclair) to now 4.0.4 (ICS), one would think they are looking at two completely different OSs.  Usability of ICS for the average user is much easy to use than the other Androids previously.  Its not quite iOS user friendly but is easy enough.  The default Holo theam is awesome, it definitely has Tron feel to it.

Android's biggest seller to me as a power user are the widgets and hacking support and of course NFC.  Apple does not have a single NFC capable device yet and iPhone 5 is still questionable in regards to NFC support.

The Galaxy Nexus also supports the new MHL (mobile high-definition link) port.  I've used it with my new Samsung monitor and it works as it should; I can mirror my entire phone onto my monitor and also pass audio over the cable to my monitor.  Most 2012 HDTVs are coming with this port.

Another cool feature is Face Unlock.  This lets you setup the phone to use the front camera to take a picture of you and then let you unlock the phone via the camera and looking at it (you do have to hit the power button).  It's not the most secure way to lock your phone but its much better than nothing, plus you have to setup a pin or pattern password as backup.

So far I'm very satisfied with my new Galaxy Nexus.  I love how it has no extra launchers (Touchwiz) or UI add-ons (Sense) and of course is SIM unlocked and has the pentaband so it basically works on nearly any GSM based mobile network including Europe.

Yes, its only a dual core and has a 4.6" screen but the best part is the battery life thus far. I can easily make it a full day (7a to 12a) on a charge.  Activities include: gmail sync, google reader sync, twitter on demand, facebook on demand, minor bathroom gaming, work email via Good app, maybe one actual 15min phone call.

So is an Ice Cream Sandwich device worth it? YES!  ICS just as good as iOS in my opinion and even does a few things it can't.  The main thing to remember is to try to find a phone that runs a stock, vanilla ICS build and doesn't have a special launcher or UI overlay; these things cause longer delays on getting future updates.  Plus, a Nexus phone usually gets the updates first!