It's been a rather wild ride for Samsung Galaxy S users regarding a possible update to Android 4.0. First, Samsung, issued a statement saying that they could not update their former flagship phone. After a community outcry, however, they responded with a different possibility - a "Value Pack" update, one that would include some key features from Ice Cream Sandwich (such as Face Unlock) but which would still be based on Gingerbread.
We are going to need some restraint and careful explanation for this one.
Google is making life a little easier for developers. Today a post on the official Android Developers Blog announced a new rule for OEMs that insist on skinning Ice Cream Sandwich: You must also include the unmodified ICS "Holo" Theme files. Regular users still have to deal with a skinned OS, but developers can opt out of the skinned parts for their app.
Make no mistake about it - the Galaxy Nexus is the most important phone of 2011. It's the first device from the next generation of Android. It hits every major feature the phones of 2012 will be touting: On-screen buttons, a massive 720p OLED screen, NFC, LTE, and Ice Cream Sandwich. Together these things make this phone unlike any other Android phone. This is what Android's future looks like.
While we've already seen a leaked version of TouchWiz running on top of ICS, a new leak shows us what HTC is doing with Android 4.0. I know you're all anxious to see what it's all about, so let's just get that out of the way first:
It's worth noting that this is a very early test build, so it's subject to change before it actually sees any official light.
Samsung has finally made an official statement regarding its plans to upgrade current handsets to Ice Cream Sandwich (Android version 4.0), and the short list is indeed quite short:
Galaxy S II (including AT&T LTE version)
Tab 7.0 Plus
Updates will start with the Galaxy S II and Note in Q1 2012, but that time frame likely applies to world versions of the phone, so those with American carrier-branded versions of the GSII will probably be waiting a little longer.
Looks like the incremental updates for Android 4.0 are rolling along nicely at this point - the VZW Galaxy Nexus received the update to Android 4.0.2 yesterday, and now Google has announced version 4.0.3. As you may expect, it crushes many bugs that have been found in current builds, along with throwing some optimizations into the mix.
This update will also bring some new goodies to the table for developers in the form of new APIs:
Social stream API in Contacts provider: Applications that use social stream data such as status updates and check-ins can now sync that data with each of the user’s contacts, providing items in a stream along with photos for each.
Google Android software engineer Jean-Baptiste Queru has just let loose a factory image of the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, meaning developers now have an official software build to recover from bricks and to tinker with to their hearts' contents. You can find the image, ITL41D, here. The post also indicates more Verizon Galaxy Nexus goodies will be coming later, so we'll keep you updated as more is released.
An early version of the Ice Cream Sandwich ROM built by Samsung itself and complete with TouchWiz has been leaked today to the folks at SamMobile. They've quickly put together this video to demonstrate exactly what Samsung has been cooking up for the upcoming update - and that would be a whole lot of TouchWiz on top of the beautiful ICS UI we've been admiring so far:
Ever since I got the SGS II in the U.S., I don't mind TouchWiz as much (though those click sounds make me cringe every time), but it's kind of starting to look and feel old compared to Ice Cream Sandwich itself.