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Ballmer bashes Android as Ice Cream Sandwich arrives

by Kristen Nicole

Google set out to one-up Apple’s iPhone 4S launch, providing a revamped software and hardware solution that integrates deeply with Google’s own ecosystem. Microsoft has been after Android from a legal standpoint as it builds its strategy for a new device-OS combo. Already, CEO Steve Ballmer is bashing Android’s latest release. He calls it cheap and complex, comparing Windows phones as the more user-friendly devices: “You don't need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows phone. And I think you do to use an Android phone!”

Ice Cream Sandwich finally unwrapped

Android Ice Cream Sandwich is finally here, after months of waiting and plenty of hype. The new OS brings a wealth of new features to Android devices, along with a sleek, redesigned interface. The goal behind Android 4.0 was beauty and simplicity, especially for developers. The updated OS works for both smartphones and tablets, optimizing for a range of screens with a penchant for HD and a lack of hardware buttons. The keyboard has also been improved, and notifications are more interactive. Encouraging more mobile web use, you can also sync your bookmarks with Google Chrome. The BBC outlines some key changes for Android 4.0 software:

  • Face recognition unlocking. Rather than entering a pattern code as in previous versions, users can opt to look into their camera.
  • Enhanced email capability — support for nested subfolders
  • Android Beam — users can swap web content or links to apps by touching their phones together.
  • Enhanced voice input featuring a continuously open microphone, meaning phones listen out for instructions.

From a design standpoint you’ll note the following upgrades:

  • Replacing physical buttons on devices with equivalent on-screen icons.
  • New lock screen features — the ability to access camera and notifications.
  • Ability to group apps and shortcuts by dragging icons onto each other.
  • Redesigned multi-tasking screen. Applications are represented by scrollable tiles.

Galaxy Nexus debuts

If you want to see it in action, you’ll have to nab the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus, launched in tandem with Android 4.0. The device lives up to expectations with a 4.65” contour display with true HD (720p) resolution, a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 4G LTE and HSPA+ support. The camera’s also been updated with features like zero shutter lag, auto focus, improved low-light performance and panoramic options. Video capture is in 1080p and clips can be edited and shared directly from your phone. The Galaxy Nexus is also wary of your data usage, a helpful perk for Verizon users now that unlimited data is a thing of the past. NFC technology will be used for more than mobile payments, enabling more sharing capabilities (similar to Bump) between phones.