[Android] First Impression of unofficial Ice Cream Sandwich on Google Nexus S

The announcement of Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) and the new Galaxy Nexus certainly are exciting news for Android supporter, though it is a little bit sad to know that Nexus One won’t get the sweetness that Ice Cream Sandwich offers (at least officially).

There has been a promise of Nexus S getting Ice Cream Sandwich few weeks after the release of Galaxy Nexus, however, I am sure most of the Nexus S (and other Android device that is eligible for the update) user couldn’t wait any longer for the release. Good news is that Google already released the SDK of Android 4.0, so while waiting for the official release, we can have a go on the sweetness via the emulator on the computer.

How about a real ROM on the device now? If you are adventurous enough to try an unstable ROM (and by unstable, I really meant it) which is not meant for daily normal usage – you got it. Drew Garen from drewgaren.com has put in some efforts to convert the available SDK into a working ROM for Nexus S and it is working surprisingly well (not entirely stable but it is surprise to see this stability from a ROM built from an SDK).

If you are interested and ready to take some risk, you can refer to the guide here on how to get it install (even if you haven’t root your Nexus S), however, if you would like to see what’s new and how does it run on Nexus S, keep reading. 

First Impression

I have been running the famous MIUI custom ROM for quite some time, therefore I definitely have it in mind when it comes to comparison, though I am aware that this is an unfinished and unofficial stock Android 4.0, so I won’t be harsh on it.

Clean and Simple UI design. Similar to the recent UI transformation of Google Services which aimed for clean, simple and spacious design, you can definitely felt the changes on the UI. Looks a lot similar to the UI in Honeycomb (Android 3.0), but now they are well optimized for the phone. And I love it.

Bored but easy-to-the-eye colour scheme. You can expect most of the UI element are built from the dull black, grey, and white, but they all played their roles pretty well in categorizing the information on the screen.

Sharp corner and no more outdated border. Most of the menu/window are now border-less, and with sharp edges. Clean and direct.

Smooth (really) animation and transition effects. If I am not mistaken, hardware acceleration is turned on by default for the UI animation/transition in Ice Cream Sandwich. Setting a live wallpaper has less impact on the launcher animation now, and the new transition effects during the switching between window are really some eye candies. Rotation between horizontal and landscape is smoother than previous version.

Beautiful, resizeable widgets and drag-and-drop grouping. Widget is now sitting side by side with the app launcher and user can easily add them by drag-and-drop to the homescreen. Some of them are resizeable, and there are some nice new widgets, like the new Email and Calender widget. Similar to iOS, dragging a shortcut and place on top of another shortcut will create a group.

Data usage is more manageable. In Android 4.0, they have also included a data usage manager by default (finally!), so you can monitor you data usage right out of the box.

New Email client, Browser, Gallery etc. Of course, with the new Android, those stock app will have a facelift and provide better functionality, if any. The most noticeable changes would be on the stock browser – it is now cleaner and have some extra features such as Save for Offline Reading.

New lockscreen – Unlock or Camera. The new lockscreen is no longer meant for unlocking the screen, in Ice Cream Sandwich, you can immediately slide to the left to run the camera app to snap photo right away (I know, iOS 5 have this, but user friendly features are always welcomed).

New font – Roboto. After using the same font for quite some time, Android team have decided to give it a total change. The Roboto font is now used in Ice Cream Sandwich, which is pretty good on the readability on the mobile screen.

So, those above basically are my first impressions of Ice Cream Sandwich running on Nexus S. You might find that I didn’t mention any bad on it, but as I mentioned, this is not an official version of the ROM, so I won’t make the judge at the moment. Enough of reading, how about some screen shots of Android 4.0?

Ice Cream Sandwich Gallery

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