Ice Cream Sandwich – a user experience
Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest Android OS, for mobile phones and tablets, is here, and has several ports to the more popular versions of handsets around the world, more specifically those that run on at least a 1 GHz processor. It is the next step in the Android evolution, a major framework upgrade and a whole lot more that makes it a good use.
It must be understood though, that like any open source project, this one does come with a few teething issues that’ll get kicked out over time. The developers have been at it, and have come up with some very decently running versions of it, a few of them can be used as daily drivers, and the rest can be a weekend test base. This, however, remains till the release of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which is when the final code would be made public by Google, which is due to happen on December 12 across 4 networks in the US, and of course the handset goes public around the same time too, or perhaps later in December.
Nevertheless, the best part about having an SDK and a bunch of developers around the world is you get to see the new product introduced and being used before the actual launch, hence the reputation precedes the actual device itself. Ok so enough talk. Let’s get to the Ice Cream Sandwich itself, and I’ll be referring it from the perspective of Samsung Galaxy S, and its Vibrant sibling (which is the one I’m using).
I thought of adding a video, but then again I was like, probably it won’t come out that well. Nevertheless, I hunted down one for you that might give you a good user feel for the Galaxy S or the Nexus S handsets.These clearly differ from the screenshots you’d see on the Galaxy Nexus, that being the flagship handset which contains the latest and greatest of the Ice Cream Sandwich OS and UI by Google itself. If you wish to check those out, the best screenshots I can find are at Engadget.
There are a number of developers working on this, however the more prominent ones with their Alpha or Beta releases of the Ice Cream Sandwich include:
CM9 from Cyanogen is what most end users are waiting for, being the one that is most comprehensive and available for all handsets for which CM7 was supported. This they have also confirmed on their latest blog post.
Thoughts after use
I’ve been using Ice Cream Sandwich for the last 2 weeks at least, and I’ve played between the versions from OneCosmic, Neobuddy, Eugene and recently from Goodoane. So far, here are my thoughts and impression of the Ice Cream Sandwich, from a user and functional perspective.
- It’s is no doubt very well done, especially if you reduce the Font Size down to Small, the fluidity of the UI increases. It is a super smooth and wonderful display to look at, and there are no second thoughts about it.
- There are some apps, especially Flash Player not available for the OS. Go to Market and you’ll see that some just won’t show up, as currently the apps are incompatible with the OS and the app developers have to do their part here. For example, Facebook contacts sync doesn’t work, but Twitter, LinkedIn and Whatsapp works. However in this case, I’m not sure who is responsible.
- Adobe has recently announced that the final mobile version of Flash will be released later in December, and it will be only for the Android. After that, it won’t be releasing for any other handset either. The browser nevertheless supports HTML5 as a standard, so we don’t have to worry much about that.
- Data speed isn’t impressive, neither on Mobile Data or Wifi, that’s at least what I’ve found. If we talk about data transfer, then USB data transfer while using NeoBuddy’s ICS Passion v5 is slow, takes me twice as much time to transfer my songs to my phone, compared to any other OS, including OneCosmic’s version of ICS.
- By default, you don’t have a file manager showing up on a fresh install. NeoBuddy has IO File Manager and Root Browser preinstalled in his version, so that helps. But unlike till other OS’s up to Gingerbread, you’ll find this piece missing completely.
- Sometimes the phone will restart suddenly, or freeze at one app or another just randomly. In the last two weeks, I’d say it has happened about 5 times.
- GPS doesn’t always work well. You may want to switch it off and rely on Google’s location service instead, which gives quite a close to accurate result too.
- Camera is awesome, but with no touch focus, which is kind of a downturn considering we had it finally running on CM7 for the last 2 months now. Some ROMs don’t have video recording working properly. More testing needed in this area I guess.
- For those who love themes, well, you’ll have to wait some time before some really great themes come your way for this OS. Till then in my opinion, the live wallpapers would be a good feast for you.
- Battery drain – something you can say happens a lot on this OS at least for now. NeoBuddy’s ICS Passion v5 now the Smartass v2 governor, and can overclock up to 1.3 GHz. I’ve so far maintained it to 1.2 Ghz overclocked, makes it run a lot smoother.
- The new Google Music app is great, has some nice addition to the sound effects too, allowing for 3D effects, Bass Boost and I personally like the equalizer setting for FX booster. However at times you will note that playback gets a little choppy.
- Emails for Exchange and other non-Gmail addresses are now HTML compatible. Now this is a major improvement. You will also note that when you start typing for your contacts, the speed at which your Exchange contacts will show up is incredible, more like instantaneous, and I’m talking about pulling from your Exchange Server, not your phone’s contact list.
Overall, I’m really satisfied, and I love the Ice Cream Sandwich (can taste it while it melts in my mouth), it’s that delicious if you may call it. I can’t wait to see the upgraded versions, especially from Cyanogen, and that would be the best thing ever.
Send me your comments and feedback on your experience, or your questions if you have any.