A concern that's been on the tip of the Android community's tongue lately is hardware acceleration. It's something we've been waiting for for a while now, and it looks like Ice Cream Sandwich will finally deliver.
Hardware acceleration allows for a buttery smooth user experience, better graphic performance, and better responsiveness within apps. The sheer volume of improvements coming in Ice Cream Sandwich is astonishing, and I have a feeling we haven't heard about all that ICS has to offer yet.
Can't get enough of the Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich? P3droid has released a dump of the Galaxy Nexus' system apps. Most apps from the dump are only going to work on ICS devices, but you can probably load most of them up in the ICS Android emulator right now. On that note, hopefully developers can pick the apps apart and get some Ice Cream Sandwich crumbs working on current devices.
Some of the most impressive features unveiled at tonight's Ice Cream Sandwich Announcement surrounded the home screen and multitasking. This time around, Google has packed an absurd amount of awesomeness into Android, and while the home screen is just the beginning, there's a lot going on that's worth discussing.
First up, we have resizable widgets - a feature many users adore from Honeycomb. Finally, users can resize widgets using Android's default launcher, making the possibilities for well-designed home screens endless.
Adding to the heap of shiny new features brought to us in Ice Cream Sandwich, we've got a new lock screen, and of course the fabled virtual button bar.
The redesigned lock screen allows for simple unlocking, or unlocking to the camera app instantly (which, by the way, has zero shutter lag). That's not all it has to offer, though. Users can now swipe down the notification bar to get a peek at what's happening without unlocking their phone.
Anticipating the fact that some folks prefer information presented to them visually, Google just dropped the first official promo video for the new Galaxy Nexus, powered by Ice Cream Sandwich. Tron-style racing and a rundown of new ICS features are practically begging you to click that Play button below:
In the words of the top YouTube comment: "Shut up and take my money, Google!"
One of Android's new features that was stressed pretty heavily on stage tonight was Roboto, a system font created specifically for Ice Cream Sandwich, which, in all honesty, looks a lot better than the system fonts we've seen before.
At first I questioned why it was necessary to spend so much time discussing a simple type face (one without even a hint of a serif), but when I thought about it, it made sense - most of the things we do on Android devices involve letters and numbers in some way, and why not make those characters aesthetically pleasing?
In an age where a "contact" is more than a mere phone number and email address, contact management has become a tedious process. So, I was pleased to see Google taking a step in the right direction with ICS and updating the contact manager into the new and improved "People" app. During the ICS live blogHugo Barra, Product Management Director for Android at Google, demoed the new People app by showing off how it seamlessly integrated all the contact's basic information together with the person's different social profiles.
Developers, start your engines. Fresh Ice Cream Sandwich versions of the SDK and ADT have been released. There is a ton of new stuff to learn and play with. For starters, take a look at the 4.0 platform page here, download the 4.0 SDK here, and instructions for ADT 14 are over here.
I think I could write a book on all the new things in ICS, but here are the highlights for developers:
Unified UI framework for phones, tablets, and more - All the UI elements from Honeycomb, like the action bar and fragments.
Wow, what a heated hour we've just experienced, eh? Typing away and posting to our live blog, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter, while taking snapshots almost made me cross-eyed, but it's not time to stop right now. The official Galaxy Nexus site, which updates every time Google releases a new Nexus device, now has the freshly announced Galaxy Nexus plastered front and center:
If you click the blue dots, you can check out some of the major new features included in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and the Galaxy Nexus.
So it's over - we've just finished watching one of the best Android presentations to date, and there's a lot to talk about. One of the primary topics on my mind right now is Ice Cream Sandwich, but more important than that is the device which will first bring it to our hands.
At tonight's announcement, Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy Nexus, the first Ice Cream Sandwich device ever, set to hit the market "in November."
The presentation didn't give us any clearer picture of who exactly will be getting this device first, though the presentation pointed to LTE and HSPA capabilities, but it was made clear that the Galaxy Nexus will see a worldwide distribution, including the USA, Europe and Asia initially, and expanding globally at an unspecified date.