Google lifts lid on Ice Cream Sandwich as Samsung's Galaxy Nexus makes Hong Kong debut
New handset, new OS
Things will undoubtedly change once Google's acquisition of Motorola is signed off, but for the moment, Samsung is the firm's closest Android partner.
As such, it was the Korean manufacturer's Google branded Galaxy Nexus that served as the vehicle for showcasing Android's next step – version 4.0, better known as Ice Cream Sandwich.
No knocking Nexus
Unveiled in Hong Kong, Google looked to step out of Phone 4S's shadow with the "super slim" Nexus, which sports a 4.65-inch display, a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 4G LTE or HSPA+ technology and, most notably of all, Android 4.0.
Indeed, it was actually Ice Cream Sandwich that stole most of the limelight, with the new firmware – designed to work on both smartphones and tablets – sporting a fresh new look and, in an undoubted nod to Windows Phone 7, a people's hub that draws contacts from social networks.
Other features include a high-end camera capable of shooting 1080p HD video, Android Beam – a NFC service that shares webpages, YouTube videos, maps, directions and apps by bumping two handsets together – and Face Unlock, which lets you unlock your phone with "nothing more than a smile".
"Android 4.0 builds on the things people love most about Android - efficient multitasking, rich notifications, customisable home screens, resizeable widgets, and deep interactivity - and adds powerful new ways of communicating and sharing," said Google's Xavier Ducrohet at the Android developer's blog.
"It includes many great features for users, including social and sharing integration, network data usage control, innovative connectivity and camera options, and an updated set of standard apps."
On the developer front, studios will have access to a bevy of new APIs to take advantage of the aforementioned features, plus hardware-accelerated 2D drawing, stylus input support and better mouse support.
Ice Cream Sandwich will likely roll out officially with Galaxy Nexus, itself due on the shelves in North America, Europe and Asia in November.
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