Earlier this morning I saw this tweet from the Google Nexus Twitter account:
Great news, since I own a Google Nexus S device. And instead of waiting for the update to be rolled out on my device over the air, I decided to install it myself. The update went fine, and after playing a bit with ICS I can now give you my first impressions on ICS.
First, I will start talking about what I didn’t like in ICS and then I’ll tell you about things that I liked.
What I didn’t like in ICS
- The general experience feels laggy and slow (at least slower than what I was used to with Gingerbread). Everything takes a lot of time to load like on the native phone app. In order to confront my intuition against some real proof, I ran some benchmarks on Quandrant and Antutu and the results were disappointing.
The screenshots are explicit. The only satisfaction is probably on the 3D graphics performances and yes I have felt that as well while playing some 3d games (like Shine Runner).
- Some of the games that used to work just fine before, are crashing now. Heavy Gunner 3D is an example of that. Oh and I also noticed that the force close dialog is no longer displayed when an app crashes.
- The contacts page is ambiguous. I couldn’t find how to modify the information of any contact. Usually, a single press on any row would bring me to a detailed page where I could change the info of the contact. Now, a single press will just make the phone call.
- Fun bug. Restart your phone in order to bring up the PIN code page. Start typing your code, but before pressing ok, turn your screen off. Now turn your screen on again and, tadaaa the code is now gone. These sort of bugs just don’t make the overall product look professional.
What I liked in ICS
- The clear separation between widgets and apps on the menu page. I have to say, that on former versions of Android, I had a tendency to forget about widgets because they were hidden. Now that they are visible, I can see what applications have widgets and this will make me more of a widget guy.
- The new notifications are gorgeous. First the drawer is now transparent, which gives us the possibility to keep a look on what is running behind.
- To continue on the notifications, we can now delete them manually which was really missing before.
- To finish on the notifications, I like that we can now read more about the content of the notifications. For instance, when you receive a new mail you will actually know who sent you that email and its title, right from the notifications tray.
- Holding the home button, brings you a list of all the running apps. In order to kill one app, you only need to swipe it from left to right. Very useful. I can now delete Advanced Task Killer.
- At last, it’s now possible to take screenshots right from the phone. All you need to do, is to hold the volum down button and the power button. Apparently that featured existed on some Galaxy phones but not on other devices.
- Voice recognition works great. I just typed an entire email with it and it makes n0 mistakes. Also, it’s worth mentionning that the result of the recognition is dynamically shown on screen. This is huge.
- Another sweet feature, is the possibility to group icons in folders on the home page. All you have to do, is to drag an icon and drop it into another icon to form a group. This feature is awesome. I can now organize my space more wisely.
- Dragging apps from one screen to another on the home page, is easier.
- This is subjective, but I find that the new animations are better. For instance the transition animations (when moving from one activity to another) are more… polished, less brutal. I also like the animation on the menu page, when swiping through the pages.
- I also noticed, that the software buttons (back , search , menu and home) are not shown on the Nexus S, because it already has the physical ones. Smart.
- The new font (called Roboto font) is very beautiful. It’s sharp and very pleasant to look at.
Ice Cream Sandwich has very nice new features that makes the life of Android users easier. However, I regret that it slowed down my Nexus S as shown on the different benchmarks that I ran. I also regret some bugs on apps that use to work well before (games, the photo app that crashed before the phone was plugged to my computer in storage mode etc.). I hope Google will do its best to fix all these issues as soon as possible. Finally, I have to say that I approve this update and I feel that once I will be used to all these changes, it will be hard for me to get back to older Android versions.