Samsung’s unveiling of the new Galaxy Nexus in Hong Kong is significant not just for those who want a new handset, but also for the unveiling of the latest version of Android, known as Ice Cream Sandwich.
At the unveiling, Google and Samsung underlined the close cooperation between the two companies. The Galaxy SII has been the phone of the year for 2011 and has also just been launched in the US this summer.
The latest Android operating system, which will be available to most handsets potentially, will be compared with Apple’s iOS5, since the release of both are so close together.
In bringing Android 4.0 cross platform, meaning it is the same for both tablets and smartphones, it may seem as though they are playing catch up with Apple. The new OS features a new font (Roboto) and new on-screen menu buttons which allow users to go back, Home and to review Recent Apps. There is more of an option for personalising the display on Android 4.0 with users able to resize widgets and choose how much information they can view. In terms of changes in iOS5, the principle new feature is the new notification system, similar to Android’s existing style.
Android continues to play to its strengths, allowing personification of the interface and display, never really a possibility on iOS5 where the most users can usually manage is changing the background and screensaver.
Android 4.0 represents a desire to catch up with web browsing speed and integration with apps, a powerful feature of the iPhone 4S and iOS5. While iOS5 integrates with Twitter and adds the new iMessage feature, Android 4.0 sees more features added to Google Plus, like Hangouts which allows video chat much like FaceTime, but this does mean users need more people to start using Google Plus.
There are more choices of Apps in the Android Market and the new NFC capability will make it easier for Android users to share apps. Voice input and control on Android 4.0, including the apps like Vlingo that are available do not match Siri. Yet the wide range of Google specific apps that come as standard, like a vastly superior Maps, Navigation and Translate are much improved.
iOS5 and the iCloud make updates much easier on Apple devices. Android updates, on anything other than Pure Smartphones, as the Galaxy Nexus will be, can be frustrating.
Android users may have been left frustrated by the excitement and new features unveiled by Apple with the launch of the iPhone 4S and iOS5, but with Android 4.0 they are catching up, and then some.
Thomas writes for Best Mobile Contracts, the UK’s leading mobile phone comparison website and the best place to find Galaxy Nexus deals and iPhone 4S deals.