A day after RIM introduced their new ‘BBX’ operating system to only mild enthusiasm, Google unveiled their new ‘Ice Cream Sandwhich’ Android operating system at a joint event with Samsung in Hong Kong.
The latest Android OS promises dozens of new features in addition to enhanced security measures and a complete visual re-write.
“We want to go beyond smart,” said Andy Rubin, Google’s Senior Vice President of Mobile, to a crowd gathered at a Wednesday morning press conference. “We took all of the innovation that’s available at Google, and put it into developing this phone.”
The biggest change with Google’s new Android OS is that it will finally unify Android tablets and smartphones. Currently, the Android world is split into two distinct factions: Honeycomb, which powers tablets, and Gingerbread, which powers smartphones. This divide meant that Android tablet users are left with a limited selection of apps that were written natively for the tablet, or are forced to run the app at an up scaled resolution – something that has less than visually appealing results.
Crowds at the event were most impressed with the major improvements Google has made to Android’s photo software that allows users to take panoramic images, the upgraded Chrome browser, which will sync with your desktop, and the new Android ‘Beam’ feature that utilizes Near Field Communications (NFC) to allow users to send any type of info from one device to another with a simple tap.
The major security improvement Google has made to Ice Cream Sandwich is a feature called face unlock. If enabled this would replace, or supplement (Google was unclear), a screen lock PIN with facial recognition so that if a thief managed to steal your phone and find out your pin the potential interloper’s would be rendered moot by a lack of positive facial recognition.
As the event was co-hosted by Samsung, the first phone to debut with the new Ice Cream Sandwich OS will be the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The Galaxy Nexus will sport a 1.2GHz dual-core processor backed by 1GB of RAM, and coupled with 16GB of on-board storage. It will have a 4.65-inch, 1280×720 super AMOLED screen as well as front and rear facing cameras that take snaps at 1.3 and 5 MP, respectively.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich are expected to launch in November. A press release says that the phone and OS will be launching in Canada on approximately the same date as in the U.S, but it was not specific on which carriers would be supporting the device. When asked for comment by Hardware Canucks, a representative from Rogers said they “are not able to comment on this device at this time.”