The next generation of Google’s Android platform with their flagship phone model has been announced in Hong Kong on 18 Oct 2011. This is the fourth major version of the open mobile platform code-named Ice Cream Sandwich.
Here is my take on the new features and capabilities being shown now.
New look and feel – The new font is very pleasing to look with its slight curves at the ends of letters. I’ve always favoured the darker theme starting with 3.x and this version will do well to give that kind of sophistication to the device.
Face Unlock – Should be quite secure, knowing that face recognition technology can differentiate between a live human face and a photo. My concern is whether the front-facing camera is fast enough to be enabled and unlock the phone compared to existing methods. What about lighting conditions, cultural limitations, and when you are not in a comfortable position to use your face?
Android Beam – Now this is the future of sharing with friends physically near to you. It has always been a hassle to go through the vast data network just to go between devices a few feet away. Bluetooth transfers are not platform-agnostic and tends to be slow.
Voice typing – A useful feature we all know as dictation. Has to be real-time and not have to wait for it to “think” after finishing a sentence. Still, I’ve yet to see any such voice recognition technology being able to understand all variants of English. I remember IBM used to do this quite well with your own voice being trained first. Compared to Siri on the iPhone 4S, I think this lacks that extra ability to get your phone to do simple tasks without typing, such as create reminders and search for short answers.
Google+ – We already got that everywhere, Google.
Browser – Good to improve on the tab management. I find myself going to the menu too often to move between tabs. This is not difficult to implement, what took you so long?
Gmail – Offline capability is important, as much as people use this on their desktops. Bring it to Google Docs too!
Mobile Data Management – Eh, 3G Watchdog?
Single-Motion Panoramic Camera – Simple trick of recording your shot in video then stitching the best frames together to make that panorama effect. Nothing new or useful here (how often do you look or print a panorama?).
Vibrant high-definition display – 4.65″ sAMOLED with 720p screen? Sorry I don’t intend to carry a TV in my pocket and I don’t think I’ll grow bigger hands any time soon.
Contour Display – Nokia 8110, no thanks.
I’m not greatly impressed by the feature list. While it is good to leave hardware buttons in the past, ICS lacks new ideas on the way we interact with the device. Why don’t we make more use of the sensors such as the gyroscope, compass, GPS and microphone?
Location-based services are very useful these days, if you can develop the smart apps for it. Videos and other data-intensive apps need the ability to download via wi-fi and in the background, managed by the Android system.
Use the display in new ways, such as a means to communicate or as a dashboard in the car. We need better graphic API with lower cost of C/GPU usage. I’m not interested in having a 2GHz chip in my pocket when the GUI staggers along!
What are your thoughts on this phone and Android 4.0?
Google Galaxy Nexus – http://www.google.com/nexus
Unwrapping Ice Cream Sandwich on the Galaxy Nexus – http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2011/10/unwrapping-ice-cream-sandwich-on-galaxy.html