Google Reader and Docs Get an Update; ICS Styled UI and Swipe Gesture On-Board

Google has just rolled out an updated version of Google Reader and the Google Docs app for Android.


Like in the recently updated Google+ app, the blue UI colors in the Reader app has been replaced by a grey color. The visual changes of the Google Reader app is hardly visible though. The app’s UI has been redesigned keeping in mind Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich’s magazine style UI, and now features a swipe gesture to navigate left or right. There are also new ICS Styled widgets. Surprisingly, Google has also removed some features from the app, which are now offered by the Google+ app.

The Google Docs app has also received a similar makeover. The main screen of the app now looks pretty similar to the Google+ app. Like the Reader app, the swipe to navigate gesture is present in this app as well. New ICS styled and prettier looking widgets are also on-board.

Android users can download the new Google Reader app from here, and the Google Docs app from here.

Now that Google has updated three of its apps, its time to update the most important and most used app by the users – the GMail app.  The GMail app shown in the Galaxy Nexus announcement looked absolutely stunning, and I cannot wait to try it on my Galaxy S2.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich SDK Ported To Samsung Galaxy S

In the middle of this month, Google announced the much awaited successor of Android 2.3 Gingerbread, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Ice Cream Sandwich brings with it lots of changes and new features, and also gives Android a whole new polished look, which it lacked from Day 1. At the moment, Galaxy Nexus will be the first phone to ship with Ice Cream Sandwich. After that, the Nexus S will get an OTA update, and a few months later, other phones will follow suite.

Now, the folks over at MIUI Scotland were a bit impatient for ICS, and ported it to the Samsung Galaxy S. This is a SDK level port though, since the Ice Cream Sandwich code has not yet been made public.

Below is a video of Ice Cream Sandwich in action on the Samsung Galaxy S :

The sad part is that the port is totally unstable, and cannot be used as a daily driver. The developers are not even working on making the port stable, and instead are waiting for the ICS code to hit the AOSP branch.

Interested Galaxy S owners can head over to Galnet MIUI forums for more information and download link.

Motorola and HTC Announce Their Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Upgrade Plans!

Motorola has confirmed via their official Twitter account that their recently released Android handsets, the Droid Bionic and the Droid RAZR will get the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update. Along with these 2 handsets, the XOOM – which was the first ever Honeycomb tablet – will also get updated to ICS.

Motorola will release a rough time frame for the update within six weeks of the Ice Cream Sandwich code going public. The company did not mention anything whether its other Droid branded handsets like the X2 and the Droid 3 will get the update or not. Considering these handsets are more than capable of running ICS, they should get the update later than sooner.

HTC also confirmed that they will update their handsets to the latest version of Android. Right now, they are  evaluating  the features and functionality of Ice Cream Sandwich to determine their upgrade plan. While its more or less confirmed that their latest dual-core powered handsets like the Sensation and EVO 3D along with their various variants will get ICS, its still not confirmed whether the company will update its single-core handsets, which were released at the beginning of this year. It also remains to be seen how much HTC modifies the stock Ice Cream Sandwich experience with their Sense UI. The black theme introduced in Android 2.3 Gingerbread is nowhere to be seen in HTC’s Gingerbread running handsets, thanks to their Sense UI.

Interactive Authentication Methods Get Rid of Annoying Passwords

I hate passwords. To rephrase, I hate remembering passwords. I have often believed that trying to recollect passwords has a lot to do with hair fall. Either naturally or you end up pulling your hair out since you can’t recollect the damn password. Some websites want you to have a 8 character password that’s not your first name or should have a special character . While some websites won’t allow you to enter a special character. The rules make it frustrating to remember passwords. I hate passwords.

OEMs started using finger print scanners for authentication but the accuracy is enough to make you want to chop your finger and tape it to the scanner. Or disable the password—not recommended though. Mobile phones can’t have finger print scanners and until recently, 4 digit number combinations are the standard security feature. These touch devices, however, are capable of more. In Android, Google introduced a feature called Patterns. Instead of entering number combinations, you draw a pattern on the screen to unlock the device. I have tried on my friend’s phone and find it quite intuitive. However, fellow Techie Buzz writer, Rajesh Pandey points out that figuring out a Pattern password is very easy. The finger smudges on the screen after repeatedly drawing the pattern makes it convenient to figure out the combination. Screenshot courtesy Keith Dsouza:

In Android ICS, Google has introduced facial recognition. Another interesting security implementation that uses the front facing camera to unlock the phone. I haven’t tried how consistent the feature under the varying lighting conditions but Google’s demo at the Android ICS event failed. Having said that, Xbox Kinect uses Kinect ID to recognize you and log you into the system. Convenient and secure enough. Screenshot courtesy Google:

In Windows 8, Microsoft showed something similar to Patterns. Called Picture Passwords, users can log into the system by touching specific points on the lock screen image. These points are set by the user and are way more convenient and intuitive compared to entering passwords on the tablet. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next major release of Windows Phone introduced picture passwords, in fact it should. Screenshot courtesy me:

While security continues to be a threat as seen by the recent troubles Sony faced, there need to be more intuitive ways to authorize users. Google and Microsoft seems to be working on them with some practical solutions.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich – All You Need To Know About It

Along with the Galaxy Nexus, Google also announced the next major version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. This new version of Android includes lots of new features, and also comes with a redesigned UI.

Android 4.0 carries over the same blue Tron like style as found on Android 3.o Honeycomb.   However, it has been toned down to make it more pleasing.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich comes with ROBOTO, a font tailor made for Ice Cream Sandwich and Galaxy Nexus. The UI has a new magazine like style to it, and comes with subtle animations all over.

Ice Cream Sandwich and Galaxy Nexus also come with virtual buttons, instead of the typical 3 or 4 buttons layout found on all other Android phones. The virtual buttons rotate as the phone is rotated the phone, and even automatically hides itself when playing back video. The multi-tasking UI has also been revamped, and looks similar to the UI found in Honeycomb. Unlike the previous versions of Android, users can simply swipe an app to remove/stop it right from the multi-tasking UI in ICS. The swipe gesture is also being used throughout Android 4.0, and even across system apps.

Google has also revamped notifications in Android 4.0, and users can now dismiss individual notifications via just a simple swipe. The notification bar is now directly accessible from the lock screen as well. The notification bar also comes with a new music player control. The keyboard has also been revamped, and is now much better at suggesting you words. Ice Cream Sandwich also includes Facial recognition, which unlocks your phone upon detecting your lovely face.

The new web browser allows easy switching between multiple tabs, and also comes with an option to change the user agent. Users can also sync their Chrome bookmarks, and can also save a page for offline reading as well.

Other goodies of Ice Cream Sandwich include Folders,  re sizable  widgets, new scrollable widgets for GMail, Youtube and many other apps, a new launcher, and the ability to take screenshots, inline text editing, improved and consistent copy and paste functionality. The new GMail app comes with a revamped UI, and much more importantly comes with offline search capability. All other core Google apps have also been updated with a new UI and features.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich also comes with a data usage monitor, which monitors your data usage. It can also warn you when a user is nearing his monthly data usage, and will even allow users to kill mobile data access to individual apps.

The new lock screen on the phone allows instant access to the camera app, which now comes with a revamped UI. The camera app also has touch-focus, face detection,   panorama mode and an improved share menu. The new camera app also has continuous focus, zoom while recording, and a time lapse feature.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich also includes a new photo and video editing features. Both these features are available inside the Gallery app, which has a new magazine like style to it.

Google has also revamped the Contacts app, which required a much needed update. The Contacts app has been renamed to Peoples app, and comes with a brand new and bright UI. The new Peoples app shows all the relevant info about a contact, including his social network updates and pictures. The new call screen now shows a high screen resolution of the contact, and it looks sexy! The Phone app has also been updated with a Magazine like UI, and also supports visual voicemail along with support for fast-forwarding the voicemail in real-time.

With ICS, Google is also introducing Android Beam which allows users to share information among different Android phones using NFC. Users can simply share a web page or a Maps location and much more by simply tapping the two devices together.

On the developer front, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich comes with a bunch of new APIs for developers to take advantage of. The new SDK is now also available for download.

Google Galaxy Nexus Goes Official; Packs a 720p HD Screen!

Google has just announced the much awaited successor to the Nexus S, the Galaxy Nexus. Like the Nexus S, the Galaxy Nexus is also made by Samsung. The Galaxy Nexus sports a mammoth 4.65-inch display with an eye-popping 720p (720×1280) resolution. The phone has a curved display, and is also crazy thin at just 8.94mm.

Inside the Galaxy Nexus is a 1.2GHz processor from OMAP, along with 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory. Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Nexus also does not have a microSD card slot.

At the back of this new Nexus handset is a 5MP camera, which is capable of recording videos in 1080p HD resolution. There is also a 1.3MP camera in the front. Other camera goodies include a zero-shutter lag, silly faces, panorama mode and background replacement features. The Galaxy Nexus includes all the usual connectivity options include a 4G LTE model for Verizon, and a HSPA+ version for T-Mobile.

On the software front, the Galaxy Nexus is the first Android phone which runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. This new version of Android brings many new features including redesigned UI, improved multi-tasking and web browser, facial unlock and much more. Readers can find out more about Ice Cream Sandwich here.

The Galaxy Nexus will be available in the U.S, Canada and Asia sometime in November, and will   be gradually rolled out to other countries.

[Rumor] Verizon To Offer Exclusive Samsung Nexus Prime

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Verizon will not offer the Samsung Galaxy S II in US. This news surprised many because the latest flagship handset of Samsung, the Galaxy S II, has been a hit all over the world. According to reports, Samsung has sold 5 million Galaxy S II in 85 days. But now, things are appearing to make sense after the latest report by BGR.


According to BGR, Verizon has given up the offer of launching the Samsung Galaxy S II in return of getting a bigger and better offer. The report suggests that Verizon will launch the much awaited successor of Google’s Nexus S, the Nexus Prime (reports suggest it will be called DROID Prime) as exclusive, which will be made by Samsung. The device is suggested to be launched by Verizon as soon as October. The Nexus Prime/ DROID Prime will be the first device to sport Android 4.0 a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich. The model number of the device will be SCH-i515.


Verizon probably made this move because the Samsung Galaxy S II may find hard to stand against Apple’s iPhone 5, when it will launch in near future. And having the device, which will be the first device to sport Android 4.0, that too as an exclusive is a huge boost. It seems that Verizon’s subscribers will have the bragging rights in the end.