Update: This post has been updated with links to a deeper look at each feature. Enjoy!
Holy crap. The Samsung/Google event ended just a little while ago, and I have to say, I'm pretty overwhelmed by the amount of awesome that I just experienced. The Galaxy Nexus is official, as is its counterpart OS: Ice Cream Sandwich. There is no doubt that ICS is the most polished version of Android to date.
While we use our devices for everything from watching movies to browsing the net and checking social networks, let's not overlook the fact that, at their core, they're still called smartphones. As such, the dialer and contact app -- now called People -- in Ice Cream Sandwich have both received a major overhaul.
The People is, of course, based on the current Contacts app, but it has been totally redesigned to be more intuitive, easier to use, and provide all the information about your contacts in one centralized location.
Let's face it -- no one likes tiered data plans. Still, it is something that most of us have to deal with, and I've never met anyone who wants to suffer the result of going over their allotted bandwidth. Fortunately, Google is offering a nice, proactive solution (not to be confused with the face cream that gets rid of acne, that's something else entirely) to help users avoid connection speed slowdowns or, even worse, surprise overage fees.
We've already looked at a veritable buttload (yes, that's an official unit of measurement) of features from ICS, but we're not finished yet. Next on the list of things that Google made better in Android 4.0 is an app that nearly everyone is familiar with: the Calendar.
Don't get me wrong, the existing Calendar app works pretty well -- it covers all the basics. You can schedule and view appointments, check out an overview of your week or month...
Although it wasn't announced alongside the plethora of other features during the Ice Cream Sandwich event, Wi-Fi Direct may prove to be one of the more important and revolutionary features of the new OS. In the old days Bluetooth was the standard method of device to device data transfer, but now with Ice Cream Sandwich we are given Wi-Fi Direct and Android Beam. The latter uses NFC to transfer links, media, and other data, while the former is an interesting implementation of the wireless standard which creates ad-hoc networks between compatible devices.
One of the first things that crossed our minds when Google wrapped up its Ice Cream Sandwich press conference was "what about tablets"? Well now, thanks to This is my Next, we can finally lay those fears to rest: Android 4.0 looks absolutely fantastic on a larger display.
As you can see, it doesn't look all that different from Honeycomb, which makes sense given ICS' promise of unifying Android on phones (currently Gingerbread) with Android on tablets (Hcomb).
Today's Ice Cream Sandwich announcement yielded a number of exciting enhancements, but not quite as distinctive as the new font Roboto. Indeed during the keynote, the presenter spent an inordinate amount of time expounding the virtues of this font. Roboto is a sans-serif font with characters that have a pleasing roundness, and are spaced evenly, making e-mails, clocks, and menus easy on the eyes, and, in the words of one presenter, "a pleasure to read".
At the end of today's Ice Cream Sandwich unveiling, we found out that the ICS SDK (API 14) was available immediately, but a much more important bit - the source code - was not mentioned at all. It didn't really come as a surprise - historically the source was released about a month after the SDK (with the exception of Honeycomb), but I'd like to clarify something right away for those confused between the SDK and the source code.
While I was tapping away on my laptop trying to keep up with the Ice Cream Sandwich event earlier today, the desktop machine was happily recording it for future reference. This should hold us over until Google posts the official HD version - the video is about 1 hours long, but almost every minute of it is totally worth it (at least once you get to the juicy ICS bits):
Update: The official HD video has now been posted:
Engadget managed to get some face time with Google's Gabe Cohen and he has confirmed that Ice Cream Sandwich will definitely be coming to the Nexus S. According to Engadget, both he and Matias Duarte are of the opinion that most Gingerbread devices (e.g. the Samsung Galaxy SII) will receive the upgrade.
They said that Google is "currently in the process for releasing Ice Cream Sandwich for Nexus S" and that in theory it "should work for any 2.3 device."
Unfortunately, there is no word yet on when ICS would be coming to the Android 2.3 devices and there is also no clear plan on whether ICS will ever come to older devices such as the Nexus One.