Samsung Galaxy R Ice Cream Sandwich Update Available Via KIES

After rolling out Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich updates for all its top-tier devices, Samsung has turned its attention to its mid-range and forgotten devices. Starting from last week, Samsung has started rolling out the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Galaxy R.

Yes, Samsung did launch a handset named Galaxy R in certain markets of the world. The R looked similar to the Galaxy S2, but packed in a slightly smaller 4.2-inch SLCD screen, a Tegra 2 processor and 1GB of RAM. As of now, the Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Galaxy R is being rolled out in Korea, but should soon be available in other regions including India.

The Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Galaxy R will bring with it performance and stability improvements, updated UI, Face Unlock, better speech recognition, inbuilt data monitoring tool, usability improvements, updated Google apps and much more.

The Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Galaxy R is not available via OTA. Instead, users will need to make use of Samsung’s KIES software to install the ICS update on their handset.

Sony Unveils Two Ice Cream Sandwich Running Droids – Xperia V And Xperia J

In addition to its latest flagship Xperia handset, the Xperia T, Sony also announced two other Xperia handsets, the Xperia V and J. The Xperia V is a LTE compatible phone from the Japanese company, and will come with the highest level of water resistance possible in a smartphone.

The V is similar to the Xperia T except that it is meant for the United States. The specs of the V include a 4.3-inch HD Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2, a 1.5GHz Qualcomm S4 Krait processor, 1GB of RAM, an Adreno 225 GPU, one-touch connectivity thanks to NFC, PlayStation Certified, a 13MP camera with FullHD (1080p) video recording, Clear audio+, MHL connectivity and much more.

The Xperia J is a budget-oriented Droid from the company that is aimed at emerging markets of Asia. The 9.2mm slim Xperia J packs in a 4-inch display with FWVGA resolution, a 5MP snapper in the back and a VGA camera in the front. Both the handsets will be running on Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich out-of-the-box instead of Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean.

The handsets will be available in a bunch of colors before the holiday season of 2012 kicks-in.

Renders and Details of Unreleased Sony Xperia Tablet Leak Out

Sony’s unannounced Xperia tablet has been leaked out. Rumoured to be released in September 2012, pictures and specifications of the successor to the Tablet S have been posted on XDA-Developers.

The renders show off what looks to be a ~10″ 1280×800 screen, along with a fairly thick bezel. The regular array of buttons, I/O, and cameras are present. Regular kit in this day and age for a tablet; power button, volume rocker, front facing 1MP camera, 8MP shooter with a cutout for an LED flash…

But look carefully at this next side-profile render. Sony has decided to go with what can only be explained as a “comb-over”. It’s what people do with their hair when they have no idea what the hell do with their hair. Sony must really be out of designs with this one. There’s no need for a large hump, an 8MP sensor is not thick enough to warrant a bump like that. The entire back section is likely housing a battery. The battery is flat, there’s no hump in the 6000mAh battery being used. It seems it’s purely aesthetics. Scratch that. Assthetics.

The Tegra3 powered tablet is reported to be announced in September, and will be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variants for $449, $549, and $649. The only upside to purchasing this tablet, should the render ring true, is that it will be coming with Ice Cream Sandwich.

If Sony’s track record tells you anything, it’s to learn to enjoy the release of Android that your unit ships with. When Google releases new code, Sony will most likely decide to skip your device updates in a transparent attempt and getting you to upgrade. Just be happy they didn’t put a Memory Stick Duo Pro slot in, instead of a microSD one.

Samsung Galaxy S Gets A Working Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Based ROM

With the Ice Cream Sandwich code going public a few days ago, it was just a matter of time before Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich ROMs were available for some of the popular Android phones.  Yesterday, we reported that the Samsung Galaxy S2 got its first Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich based ROM, and today, its predecessor, the Galaxy S gets a working ICS ROM.

The ROM is still in alpha stages, but the developers are working very hard on making the ROM stable enough so that it can be used as a daily driver. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S2 Ice Cream Sandwich ROM, most of the stuffs are working in the Galaxy S ICS ROM.

Calls, SMS, Hardware Acceleration, Audio, Touch, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Android Market work flawlessly on the ROM. What does not work though is GPS, Camera, Ext. SD and video recorder.

Interested Galaxy S owners can find the download link, and the installation instructions here. They can also find more information about the ROM here.

Thanks to @aatifsumar for the tip!  

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.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich: From a Windows Phone user’s perspective

Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich unveiled

On October 19th, 2011, Android’s latest update called Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) was unveiled in Hong Kong at an event jointly hosted by Google and Samsung. ICS is version 4.0 of the Android operating system. I went through the launch video and realized most of the visual and user experience updates are clearly, ahem, inspired by Windows Phone and its Metro design principles. Here is a rundown of some of the key announcements from a Windows Phone user’s perspective.

Ice Cream Sandwich: Design principles

Matias Duarte, the head of Android User Experience, introduced the concept of uniform design as it applied to Android. The new design starts with a new, system-wide font called Roboto. The styling will have big, bold pictures with giant headlines instead of just a list of icons, per Duarte. He added that everything in Android will show plenty of white space and eliminate lines and boxes and other such unnecessary decorations.

As Windows Phone users may know very well by now, all these points are straight out of the Metro Design Language playbook. At //build/ Microsoft showed how these principles are going to be made part of Windows 8 as well. The upcoming Fall Xbox dashboard update is also going to have a Metro design. This imitation by Google provides further justification and validation of the choice Microsoft has made in getting Metro on all their platforms.

Ice Cream Sandwich: Key new features

A detailed list of the new features in Android 4.0 are on the Android Developers site. Some of the key features highlighted in the video were:

  • Lock screen: The big change here as it relates to Windows Phone is that the lock screen has the big time indicator and clean, uncluttered interface. The screen looks very Metro undoubtedly.

Ice Cream Sandwich Lock Screen

Ice Cream Sandwich Lock Screen

  • Browser: The browser in ICS introduces saving entire pages for offline use, includes Chrome bookmark sync, and an Incognito mode. None of these features are available in Windows Phone yet and these would be nice to have in a modern mobile operating system.
  • Mail and Calendar: Gmail introduces offline search capability. In Calendar, one can now pinch to zoom in order to see different timespans in the calendar. This ability is actually quite smart, instead of the standard day/week/month views that typical calendars provide. This is especially useful on phones where screen real estate is at a premium.
  • Photos: Just like iOS5, ICS has copied one of Windows Phone’s cool features, what Microsoft calls Pocket to Picture. The Camera app in ICS can now take a picture from the lock screen. Also, like Windows Phone does, ICS allows instant sharing to multiple providers. A key win for Microsoft? Facebook sharing capability natively from the Pictures hub or the camera app. ICS also adds photo editing on the camera. Windows Phone introduced Auto Fixwith Mango but clearly, Microsoft has some catch up to do in this area. That is also perhaps where the dual cores in Android phones may actually be put to use. As Andy Lees has said, Windows Phone with single core devices can actually go head-to-head very capably with dual core Android phones. I suspect if Windows Phone had photo and/or video editing, that claim would not hold true.

Camera from the lock screen

Camera from the lock screen

  • Videos: ICS now supports 1080p video recording, continuous focus, zoom while recording, video snapshots, and time lapse recording. None of these features are currently supported in Windows Phone. While 1080p recording would be great to have, it is arguable what benefit it would provide especially video shot on a mobile phone. The other features are cool and would be welcome additions to Windows Phone.
  • People App: The new People app in ICS is clearly a copy of the single-biggest feature in Windows Phone, the aggregation of all your contacts into a single hub (People Hub). The Windows Phone People Hub enables you to see all your interactions with your contacts in one place regardless of how you are connected to them address book in the cloud, Twitter, Facebook, Windows Live, LinkedIn, etc. The ICS People app aims to do exactly that, and further, it also takes the concept of Metile from Windows Phone and applies it to the People App for all things about Me.

Aggregated contacts

Aggregated contacts

Me contact

Me contact

Contact across networks  no Facebook

Contact across networks no Facebook

  • Other: Another cool feature I saw in the introduction video was voice mail speed adjustment. This one is clearly in the bells-and-whistlescategory but certainly useful if you tend to receive long and boring voice mails. A fuller rundown of everything ICS is covered elsewhere on Techie-Buzz.

Speed up voice mail

Speed up voice mail

So ICS is a big step forward for Android in terms of its user interface and user interaction/experience, but for Windows Phone users like me, it is somewhere between mehand oh we already enjoy all of that beauty. An evolutionary iPhone 4s, problematic deployment of and a somewhat buggy iOS5, a less-than-sensational Android 4.0, a floundering RIM, a stunning turnaround in deployment of Windows Phone updates in the form of Mango rollout, and a slew of upcoming Nokia devices. All those things, combined with Samsung and HTC providing additional marketing funds to promote Windows Phone, means it is all coming together for Windows Phone to strike this holiday season and assert itself as the clear #3 platform.

The important question is, will customers buy?

Google Music App APK From Android Ice Cream Sandwich Leaks Online!

Even though the Nexus Prime and Ice Cream Sandwich are not being announced on October 11, a lot of pictures and a video of the handset and the upcoming OS leaked today.

Now, making the day even better are the guys behind Android Police. They have somehow (I wonder how?!?) have managed to get their hands on a lost Nexus Prime on Verizon’s network. They have been playing around with the phone, and have managed to extract some of the upcoming ICS goodies for us Gingerbread users.

First they posted about the new Google+ app coming with ICS, and now they have posted a short walkthrough of the new music app coming in the next Android version. In fact, they have even uploaded the APK for us general Droid users to download and try.

UI wise, there are not many changes in Google Music 4.0.1. The whole UI looks the same as v3, except it has some tweaks which make it much more usable and visually pleasing. The bad news is that new build of Google Music does not seem to work with Google’s cloud based music service.

Interested Android users can head over to Android Police to find more screenshots and download link of the Google Music APK.