Ice Cream Sandwich First Impressions

I’ve been running now with Ice Cream Sandwich (v4.0.3) on my Nexus S for the last three weeks now thanks to an OTA update. I decided to share what I think of it as well as some screenshots which are now a hell of a lot easier to take than in previous versions (just hold volume down + power key).

One huge improvement I’ve noticed is in the gallery. I was never a huge user of the gallery in previous versions but the interface has been significantly improved, in my opinion, with a nice scrolling timeline of photos as the default browsing method. The new Instant Upload feature (which I’m led to believe came in with previous versions) allows seamless integration and instantaneous backup of your photos (or at least the ones you take with your android device). Using my Google+ account I found this has made it a lot more likely that I’ll actually share photos online.

Google provided 1Gb of free storage space for photos/videos uploaded using Instant Upload, I found more info about this on the Free Storage Limits page on the Google support site. Of course you can also disable this altogether check out the Photo settings and About Instant Uploads support pages for info on this.

Another thing I loved is the new Data usage screen, which shows a graph of data usage over time and allows you to set warning and cut-off limits meaning its less likely I’ll go over my data allowance, there’s also the breakdown of usage per app. It’s slightly easier to enable/disable data but there still isn’t a power control switch to do this.

It’s now easier to manipulate stuff on the home screens. Whenever you create a shortcut it gives you a screen bounding box and you can also re-size some widgets, like the calendar widget for example. The launcher screen is nothing special, it does the job. It does feature some nice transitions though. One thing that could be improved is to have a screen selector at the bottom, if you’ve a lot of apps it could help you get to the screen your desired app is on a bit faster. You now have to go via the launcher to see your widgets and add them to the home screen – it’s a lot better that you can now see a preview of the widget, The switcher is now a little nicer too, you get the app icon as well as a screenshot which is handy. It’s possible to exit apps by swiping the thumbnail to the left/right.

One other thing worth mentioning is that I have noticed a reduced drain on my battery. I’d really have to work with it for a bit longer to know for sure, but I think that if you stay on top of the apps you have open (closing those no longer required) it seems to make a marked difference.

Overall a very welcome update!

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