High hopes for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich at today’s Galaxy Nexus release party

by Kristen Nicole

Are you ready for today’s “Big Event?” After postponing the joint affair after Steve Jobs’ death last week, Google and Samsung are now preparing to unveil a major announcement this evening. The fanfare event takes place in Hong Kong on October 19th, meaning folks in the U.S. will get the news sometime around 7 p.m.

With high hopes for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus launch and the unveiling of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, this could turn out to be a big deal after all. Around the world, Android fans are gearing up for the Nexus phone launch, with a premature confirmation from Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo and growing expectations for a holiday release in the UK. There’s still no definite release dates, however, but we may learn of some pre-order options at today’s launch party.

For the Galaxy Nexus device, we’re hoping to see 4G LTE support on Verizon’s network, which would give it an edge over the recently released iPhone 4S. From previously-leaked information the Galaxy Nexus could feature a 4.65-inch 1280 x 720 Super AMOLED HD display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera and NFC integration.

The software perspective

From a software perspective, the Galaxy Nexus is expected to be a flagship smartphone for the upcoming Android version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), also likely to be revealed today. There’s a lot riding on Google’s latest Android edition, resolving many of the OS issues that plague developers in particular. Addressing fragmentation around varied screen sizes, different OS versions for smartphones and tablets and a series of other critical bugs, Ice Cream Sandwich will not only improve Android’s ecosystem but make it more competitive with iOS 5.

Apple may not have launched the iPhone 5 as hoped, but its combined upgrades around the iPhone 4S and iOS 5 make it a powerful contender, driving sales well past the projected 4 million units in its first weekend of availability. The battle between Google and Apple has decidedly become a matter of software, and this is where we’ll see each camp’s ability to maintain developer support as Android and iOS continue to nurture their respective markets.