Ice Cream Sandwich on Display in China
Five hundred thousand new Android devices are activated every day. That’s 5 million units every 10 days. These impressive numbers were quoted by Google’s John Lagerling, Director Android Partnerships. Along with a host of other pitch-worthy stats were provided by John at this weeks 2011 Mobile Developer Conference in Beijing. The main purpose of John’s talk was to pitch Google’s forthcoming update to the Android OS, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), which will bring the operating system up to 4.0. ICS was officially unleashed on the developer community through the release of the Software Developer Kit (SDK) a few weeks ago, but this was the first time Google had personally gotten on stage in mainland China to pitch and discuss the modifications made in ICS.
Having used Android for the last couple of weeks and iOS for the last few years, I can honestly say that there isn’t a best OS out there right now. Android certainly has iOS beat on customization, but iOS has Android built on ease of use. There are times I really enjoy that I can do practically anything I want to Android. Then there are other times where I just want to make a fraking phone call and have to jump through 5 different menus to do so (I’m aware of the shortcuts, but the point is that it isn’t build from the ground up to be simple).
One OS to Rule Them All
But perhaps that will change with ICS. Apple’s iOS was finally starting to catch up with the features that the current rendition of the Android OS contains, but 4.0 will widen the gap back out. Former version of Android OS jumps were released on a fairly short time frame – 4 to 6 months. This time around ICS stayed in development for 7-8 months. Google claims this extra time has let them add some killer new additions. This operating system promises merge the Android OS that is run on Tablets with the one that is currently running on Android smart phones. This unified OS is a big step by itself, but beyond that here is a quick run down on a few of the cooler mods and adds:
- Physical Buttons on the Phone will no longer be required
- Widgets can be re-sized rather than the current fixed size
- Folder creation done by dropping an icon onto another icon (Should help with the 6 billion apps that have been downloaded from the Android Market.)
- New and improved multitasking
- Easier screenshot taking
- Improved Notification
- Improved keyboard with smarter word prediction
- The ability to unlock your phone by looking at it
- Data usage monitoring and the ability to set data usage caps
- More improvements to the browser pulled over from the Chrome browser (bookmark sync, offline reading, improved tabs)
- Improved camera interface
- Panorama Photo shooting
- Peopleapp (a new way to handle your social contacts)
- Android Beam (a proximity based way of transferring data between phones, can be used in a variety of ways by apps)
Right now Apple owns the hearts of the Chinese people and the pirate markets own their wallets. The Chinese market is obviously a huge market for Google if they can figure out to lock it down. The push today was obviously to try to convince Chinese developers that Android is the right place to direct their efforts, and by the claps at the conculsion, at least a few were convinced.