I got the OTA (Over The Air) Ice Cream Sandwich update yesterday for my Nexus S 4G. It was a bit of a surprise. I had just left to go to lunch from work and looked at my phone and it said that it was ready to perform the update. After a few minutes it was booting up and I was playing with the new interface. I got the 4.04 update and there are some pretty sweet new features. A complete list can be found on the official Android Ice Cream Sandwich page. But here’s a quick rundown:
- Refined, evolved UI
- Home folders and favorites tray
- Resizable widgets
- New lock screen actions
- Quick responses for incoming calls
- Swipe to dismiss notifications, tasks, and browser tabs
- Improved text input and spell-checking
- Powerful voice input engine
- Control over network data
- Designed for accessibility
- Unified calendar, visual voicemail
- Rich and versatile camera capabilities
- Redesigned Gallery app with photo editor
- Live Effects for transforming video
- Sharing with screenshots
- Powerful web browsing
- Improved email
- Android Beam for NFC-based sharing
- Face Unlock
- Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth HDP
One neat new feature was an app called Movie Studio. It allows
you to take your videos and edit them with transitions (crossfade, fade in and out, slide left and right, etc), titles and effects such as gradient, sepia and negative. I’m still playing with it but I think you can add audio as well.
A lot of widgets and icons have a new look. Some require deleting them off your screen and re-adding them. But that was no big deal.
The phone and contacts have been redesigned. Seems sleeker and updated but one thing I don’t like is that the thumbnail images I have for my contacts get blown up when you’re actually viewing their contact info so much that they get really blurry. And it crops the image as well, cutting off the top and bottom. It’s pretty annoying because when you call one of your contacts it puts that big blurry image on your screen and it looks bad. I’ve tried changing the image on a couple of my Google Contacts to see if it would take a higher resolution image and adjust it properly and it still made them blurry when they got larger in a call or when viewing a contacts profile. *Update* I took a picture from my gallery and used it for the contact pic and it was much clearer. So I guess the lesson is to not use Gmail to set your contact’s picture. Gmail reduces the size down and then tries to enlarge it when it’s on your phone and makes it blurry.
Some minor changes I’ve noticed is that the Android team seems to have gone with a blue theme for many of the different things like the battery level, wireless signal, bluetooth, 4G, etc in the top toolbar. The contacts section has a blue menu bar at the top and the scroller on the right is blue.
The photo gallery has been revamped to have more of a tile feel to it. It gives you the option of sorting your pictures by albums, locations, times, people or tags. Which is pretty nice if you tag your photos or if you’re looking for something that you took a year ago.
The camera has some pretty nice new features as well. Including the ability to capture a panoramic picture. Pretty sweet! The camera also has options for Scene Mode: Auto, Night, Sunset and Party. White balance options are: Auto, Incandescent, Daylight, Fluorescent and Cloudy. The video camera has some new options as well: Time Lapse Interval (off, 1s, 1.5s, 2s, 2.5s, 3s, 5s and 10s), Effects (Squeeze, Big eyes, Big mouth, Small mouth, Big nose and Small eyes) and the same White Balance options as the camera. I really wish I could have gotten a zoom feature but I’m sure that’s more of a hardware thing. Just would be nice to be able to zoom in to a shot sometimes.
All in all, there are a lot of changes and I’m still playing with it and figuring them all out. But I definitely like it. I’m interested to see how well the battery life holds up now. I’ve been using Go Launcher for my theme for the last month and it seems like it integrates pretty well with the ICS update. I may check out the native launcher and see if I like it any better but I really like the ability of Go Launcher to create additional home screens to place shortcuts and widgets on.
One thing I didn’t find was the
Face Unlock feature. It may be buried somewhere but I would think it would be under security with the passcode and pattern options.
Oh! And the screenshot function was what I was able to get these pictures with. I’m kinda stoked about that! 🙂
(Hint: To take a screenshot hold down the down volume button and the power button at the same time for about 2 seconds and you should see the screenshot pop up. It will be stored on your phone in the Pictures\Screenshots folder. )