Ice Cream Sandwich presentation: first impressions

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Well, I’ve watched to Ice Cream Sandwich presentation from Hong Kong. It’s always nice to see new hardware and software, though here the actual presentation seemed to have ran into rough patches repeatedly. Aside from the fact that all presenters were speaking in front of a video screen (which created horrible dotted patterns, driving youtube codec berserk) the OS seems to be quite unstable. It kept crashing, turning off screens and misbehaving here and there.

My biggest objection so far is the least important thing from engineer’s point of view — the visual design. All I can say is the default theme is fugly. It’s like a Windows Mobile 6.5 suddenly crawled out of its grave, dusted off ugly outlines of rectangular windows, flag icons for messenger and all other visual elements and, with lots of smacking, ate the brains of the designers. Un-freaking-believable. It screams for Sense. It withers in a distant shadow of MIUI. Even Samsung customizations usually don’t look this bad. Ick. It’s like offering text terminal with ASCII graphics next to Windows 7 aero interface — functionality-wise fantastic, but kinda horrifying for end users.

Yes, widgets are now resizable, but default ones are mega-ugly.

Face-unlock seems to be a gimmick, and demo didn’t work anyways. I’d be interested to see how the unlock reacts to a photograph of the owner instead of the live face (it doesn’t seem to ask you to, say “smile right now please” which would improve the security, though lengthen the process).

Tap-to-share sounds quite promising (aside from making you think about Nokia and Palm versions). Biggest question is, would I be able to touch the top of the phone only. That would be nice. Otherwise a simple “beam up” interaction will turn into an awkward double-phone holding with extra pokes to actually initiate the transfer (perhaps this simply hasn’t been choreographed enough).

I wish there’d be a longer demo of voice recognition — there are many things that can be improved, even without adding Siri-like context awareness. But accuracy still kinda leaves some things for further improvements.

Overall — interesting, but a bit too raw of an OS. Perhaps Sense on top of it, or MIUI to make it pretty would make things better :) Not sure what I think about total lack of buttons, even sensor ones — I generally hate taking photos with a touch-screen. You can’t do it easily with one hand and I don’t spy any camera buttons on the new Samsung Nexus phone. Too bad…

p.s. The official Samsung Galaxy Nexus page is now up.

p.p.s. My thoughts on ideal Android 4.0 device

3 Responses to “Ice Cream Sandwich presentation: first impressions”

    • Max Smolev

      We sure did. I just think about it from the “regular end user” point of view. There are many nice things (faster speeds, more API) that were added to OS but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Perhaps it’s just because of the way items were presented.
      - RFID chip is in the middle, so you can’t do “tap to share” without arranging phones in a particular space-configuration (5cm distance between chips for this to work)
      - Face unlock is more of a fun extra than essential thing
      - Gallery application has been available for a while, as well as hangout (google plus)

      It’s nice that OS now will show something alike to Sense view for the contacts where you could see multiple communication modes. Panorama capabilities similar to Photaf. Data controls (though you have to set limit in order to be able to disable background data transfer).

      Just needs more polish and UX work ;)

      Reply

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