A few months ago I wrote "Stock Android Isn't Perfect," an article where I turned my usual harsh UX critique on stock Android, instead of just picking on TouchWiz and Sense all the time in my reviews. The article went over pretty well, and even got a few responses from Googlers! I didn't cover everything that was wrong with Android, though, and there have been a bunch of updates since the original article, so it's about time I wrote a sequel.
Normally I rip apart APKs looking for news-worthy items and unreleased features, but I've covered everything that's currently out, so this teardown session is going to be a little different. During my usual digging for features, I've stumbled across a surprising amount of unused files, movie references, and canceled beta assets. I've always thought it was a shame that no one knows about them, so today we'll be exploring all the crazy leftover files that ship on our phones and tablets.
It's time for another installment of Getting To Know Android, the series where we show you every polished pixel in Google's latest Android update. Today's target is the Gallery, which, in a rare APK Teardown whiff, is not white. I have no idea what was going on with our crazy 4.2 alpha version, but the Gallery is still black, and the icon is still the same. Sorry about that. There is lots of new stuff to talk about, though.
UPDATE: We've updated the links below with an install package that lets you capture and view Photo Spheres right on your handset.
One of the most popular features introduced Monday with Android 4.2 was a revamped camera/gallery app (that we got a peek at early). The camera introduces a new focus/settings UI (popping up with an "options ring" only when you need it), a refreshed gallery interface, and of course – Photo Sphere.
It's almost become trite to hear that Google has bought another company that deals in photo editing software. Yet, here we are again. Today, Vic Gundotra announced on Google+ that Nik Software, creators of the impressive Snapseed app that we saw demoed at CES this year, will be joining the Mountain View team.
While there's no indication yet just which Google product will see the benefit of this new talent, it can only mean good news.
One of the bigger changes we saw in the jump from Gingerbread/Honeycomb to Ice Cream Sandwich was in the camera app. ICS not only brought a streamlined, more subtle design to an app that so badly needed it, but also introduced zero shutter-lag, meaning the time between pressing the shutter release and capturing a photo was pushed down to (almost) zero. In fact in many cases, the time between touch and capture is imperceptible.
An Android phone is like a Leatherman Tool. It does a lot of things - without a doubt, a triumph of function over form. Android is the world's most versatile mobile operating system, the most tweakable, the most adaptable, and the most fully-featured. It just does more than any other comparable product out there. But if Android is a Leatherman, the iPhone is the basic Swiss Army Knife - compact, simple, iconic, and good enough for the vast majority of people, even if it does do a little less.
My favorite gallery replacement app QuickPic, which is notorious for its speed and simplicity, just got updated with a brand new spiffy UI based on the new Android design guidelines that were published at the time of the Ice Cream Sandwich release.
The new UI in v2.0 is now much cleaner and more fluid, with action buttons at the top right and context buttons showing up dynamically on the bottom when they're needed.
Looking to provide users with an alternative to Android's stock Gallery app, CultStory recently introduced Photo Calendar, an app which organizes all the photos on your device according to date (with custom album options).
Utilizing Photo Calendar's no-nonsense interface, users can browse their photos using album, month, and calendar views. The calendar view is particularly handy, displaying photos for each day of the month, and even detailing what time each image was captured.