Friday, December 30, 2011

Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) on Galaxy Nexus

I have been very happy with my Nexus One for over two years now, but the news that the Nexus One will not be upgradable to the new 4.0 version of Android put my loyalty somewhat in question. Even though I still prefer the physical look and feel of the Nexus One over the Galaxy Nexus, the larger, crisper display and generally much faster hardware make a switch tempting.

There is nothing really in Android 4.0 which is a must-have for me. The new UI design may be crisper, but no quantum leap in usability. One new feature I like is the tracking and control of network usage by application - a feature, I had been missing since day one.

With its size, the Galaxy Nexus is practically a "phablet" a phone/table hybrid. It is starting to get borderline in size for me to balance on one hand and still reach all the controls on the screen with the opposable thumb. On the other hand, I find myself to do more reading of news articles than before, using some newspaper apps which have started to appear for Android as well (unfortunately, the Economist app does not seem to support 4.0 yet).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Android 2.3 - Gingerbread?

Maybe it is a sign of maturity for the Android platform that for the first time, I don't find at least one highly anticipated new feature in a new Android release or new phone. When comparing supposedly new flagship phone Nexus S with Android 2.3 with my current Nexus One with Android 2.2, I actually prefer my Nexus One.

Gingerbread looks much like a maintenance release, providing a lot of internal cleanup and a very subtle UI face-lift. Since I don't play any games, I didn't notice any of the speed improvements supposedly coming from using native hardware graphics acceleration. The only new major feature - support for NFC tags - is of no use to me, since there are no NFC tags around where I live. Comparing the new Nexus S to the Nexus One, there is not as much of a wow factor either. Performance is about comparable, battery life supposedly a bit worse even, display, physical design and overall build quality mostly a matter of preference. There is clearly not as much of a leap as there was from a G1/G2 to the Nexus One. And given the reports about stability problems with the Nexus S, maybe even somewhat of a step backwards.

I has now been a few month since the release of Gingerbread and there has been no OTA for the Nexus One yet. Not that I miss it, given its lack of must-have features, but it reduces the credibility of the Nexus line as the always bleeding edge Android phone.

But maybe the Android team is too busy working on the new and highly-anticipated tablet optimized Android 3.0 Honeycomb, which should be out any day now. After all, tablets is where the new frontier is for Android these days anyway.