Google and Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Nexus smarphone phone alongside the latest version of Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream’ at a Google event yesterday and they are hoping it will be the answer to the continued iPhone dominance of the smartphone market.
Shown to the press and public for the first time the latest version of the software looks to unify both mobile and tablet versions of Android’s operating systems, with designs cues from both Gingerbread and Honeycomb.
The new OS will be available to all future Android devices and some current Android phones. It is all part of Googles attempt to solve the problem of continued fragmentation of their Android eco-system.
Among some of the clever party pieces you can expect from the Galaxy Nexus, running Ice Cream, is the ability to simply look at the device and, with some clever facial recognition, it will magically unlock.
Also featuring on the phone will be the much talked about NFC with the technology Google has create a new app called, Android Beam, which allows you to share webpages, apps and Youtube videos just by touching two handsets together, of course theyll both have to be the Nexus Galaxy, but in the future it could become an invaluable app.
Google has also seriously ramped up their use of cloud-services claiming that all data can now be backed up to the cloud with contacts, bookmarks, settings, however whether all of this will be coming to the UK remains to be seen.
The phone has completely ditched all physical buttons with software-based equivalents. The thinking behind this is of course to allow for a bigger screen, and it now comes with a whopping 4.65” screen.
The screen is probably the most impressive thing about the phone, the resolution is a laptop equivalent 1280x 720 resolution making it the first phone to have a true 720p HD screen.
Under the svelte lines of the screen you will find a 1.2 Ghz processor and 1Gb of ram. For storage junkies you will be able to pick the phone up in 2 variations: 16GB and 32GB. Those of you looking for more might want to look elsewhere.
The camera isn’t going to worry any Galaxy S2 or iPhone 4S users as its only packing 5 megapixels on the back and 1.3 on the front for video calls and facial recognition. It will, however, produce zero shutter lag, panoramic imaging and 1080p video recording.
The Galaxy Nexus is also impressively thin: measuring 135.5mm by 67.94mm and just 8.94mm thick, the 135g smartphone should fit pretty much any pocket despite its large display.
Specs-wise it not a iPhone 4S killer, it will compete admirably with the competition, but the main attraction of the new Nexus Galaxy is it will be the first phone to come with the latest version of Android ‘Ice Cream’.
Android Ice Cream
Unifying Android is something Google has been talking about sometime, at the moment you have a situation where phones are on varying versions of Gingerbread for mobile phones, as well as some early tablets on it too. To make things a little more complicated you then have Honeycomb as well, which was launched 6 months ago and was specifically designed for tablets like the Motorola Zoom, Asus Eee Pad and Galaxy 10.1 Tab.
Confused? Well thats the reasoning behind Ice Cream it will eventually be the only Android OS for all Android devices; whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet. Well that’s the promise.
“With Ice Cream Sandwich, our mission was to build a mobile OS that works on both phones and tablets, and to make the power of Android enticing and intuitive, explained Googles mobile Vice President Andy Rubin at the launch yesterday.
He added: We created a new font thats optimized for HD displays and eliminated all hardware buttons in favor of adaptable software buttons.
Reading into this it’s clear that Google hopes all future Android phone manufacturers will adopt a unified screen resolution of 1280720 in the future, of course, it could go higher, but setting the benchmark at 720p is a bold move.
The removal of hardware buttons can be traced back to the UI design of Honeycomb, where all buttons apart from the power and volume are on the screen rather than on the device.
Whether this means you won’t be able to upgrade to the button-less ‘Ice Cream on current Android phones doesn’t seem clear, but Google did mention that the old Nexus will get the new update
He went on to add: We also dramatically improved the keyboard, made notifications more interactive and created resizable widgets, Rubin continued.
The desktop-class browser is significantly faster, featuring a refined tab manager and the ability to sync your bookmarks with Google Chrome.
Ice Cream Sandwich also features the best mobile Gmail experience to date, with a new design that lets you quickly swipe through your inbox and search messages even when you’re offline.
In the update you’ll find tweaks to calendars too as it now comes with a digital lick of paint making it cleaner and easier to use, as you can now zoom into your schedule with a simple pinch.
“People are at the heart of Ice Cream Sandwich, Rubin added. We rethought how you browse your contacts with the new People app, which combines high-resolution photos and updates from Google+ and other social services. Its also easier to capture and share your life with family and friends.
You can expect to pick up the Galaxy Nexus from the November, however, theres no specifics on price or network availability.
Does a phone running specs, in some cases, less than the current crop of Android competition tempt you into picking up the new Galaxy Nexus? Is the first handset to come with Ice Cream a big enough draw to choose it over the S2, HTC EVO or Sony Ericsson Experia Ray ? Let us know in the comments below. And also check the promo video for a more visual hands-on.