Android Ice Cream Sandwich: Finally polished enough to take on iOS?

Earlier this week, Samsung and Google finally unveiled the phone Android fans have been waiting for since the Nexus One was launched a few years back. For whatever reason, the device in between – the Nexus S – didn’t quite have the same buzz about it. The Galaxy Nexus – formerly knowns as the Nexus Prime – was displayed for all to see with a brand new operating system: Android 4.0.

Ice Cream Sandwich brings a new threat to iOS. It’s the one OS to end the fragmentation row, and one which finally brings a less nerdy look to Android. Whatever your preference, no one can deny that iOS has always appeared more polished than its main competitor in the platform market. Now, you can call me a fanboy all you want for thinking that, but I wouldn’t be the only one to hold that opinion.

Android is not a bad operating system, and I don’t hate it. I used it before iOS and have used it alongside, but in the end always went back to the iPhone for day-to-day use. It wasn’t like I didn’t give Google’s OS a fair chance either. I used version 1, 1.5, 2.1 and 2.2. I used it over a period of 2+ years, which I think is a fair go. I know I’m not the only one that thinks this: it never stopped feeling like I was beta testing. The fact is, I prefer to use iPhone. I believe you need to give as many operating systems a try, to really discover what suits you. But this post isn’t about my preferences, it just helps to lay the foundation for my opinion.

With the Google’s newest Nexus device, we get a pure Android experience which completely changes the way I look at the operating system. Instead of the green and black, techy, in depth looking hackers’ OS, it looks refined. For the first time, the stock Android experience is one of class, clarity and beauty. I’m almost running out of adjectives, I just simply cannot believe the transformation that’s taken place and I think Apple should be worried. Android no longer looks like it’s trying too hard with cluttering widgets. It’s a lot more understated. Widgets look to blend in to the home screen instead of jumping out of it, attempting to grab your attention. Undoubtedly, on the Galaxy Nexus, it’s going to perform well too. It will be fast and efficient. I mean, they’ve had a few years to refine it, and this could well be Android’s finest hour. Frankly, this makes iOS look like a dinosaur.

So why should Apple be worried? Not only does the OS look a lot more clear and functional, it has been launched to end fragmentation issues. Devices after this should get updates quicker, meaning that no more Motorola, Samsung, HTC or Sony Ericsson customers will be tempted to leave in frustration of waiting for the latest OS update. Clearly iOS is already losing the market share war. Android is way ahead on that front. But, Apple’s platform is still holding its own – it’s just not making any ground as Google’s platform stretches its lead.

It does then encourage some interesting questions. Is iOS enough as it is now? It’s been virtually the same since it launched in 2007. Sure, some new – and much needed – features have been added. The new drop-down notification centre is a winner. However, is the constant irremovable grid of apps still the best way forward? Microsoft went all modern and flash with Windows Phone 7, Palm introduced an awesome cards system in webOS, and Android has this: the first Google update that’s tempted me back to Android since I got rid of my G2 earlier this year.

What are your thoughts? Is the Nexus and ICS combo enough to tempt you away from your beloved Apple handset? Let me know your thoughts on this. Tweet me: @TiP_Cam 

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  • Anonymous

    it was polished enough when froyo came out

    • Bratty

      Polished enough does not equal polished. You are happy with “good enough” versus actually having an OS that is “good”.

      • Anonymous

        Or having an OS that was better since then. 

        • I highly disagree that Android wasn’t polished enough then because most of the people I know came from iPhones and went to Android because although the iPhone was nice it just didn’t have enough customization to keep them interested. You can make as many folders as you want or change the background… even change the app icons but Android gives users the ability to really make the phone there own and thats what attracts people to it. I will agree that at that point in time it wasn’t as easy to use as a iPhone but to say it wasn’t polished enough wasn’t the right way to go about it. In the end its a matter of preference. Simplicity or Customization… It takes using both platforms before knowing what you truly like and if you used a low end device to make your judgement then you still haven’t truly seen if its best for you

      • Anonymous

        well then ios4 isnt polished, because if 2.2 is polished enough to compete with ios then ios isnt polished either

  • W4fflesxboxlive

    Even android 2.3 Gingerbread is far superior to iOS. iOS 5 had to steal the notification bar AND voice commands. Android has had a notification bar since the first phone, the G1, and has had voice commands (simply hold search) since android 2.0. I will agree though that iOS does look more ‘refined’ but at the same time iOS has never had the functionality of android. iOS is always playing catch upm and now that ICS is out, apple might actually have to innovate for once. 

    • David

      People like you are what make me hate reading the comments.

      • atmancloud

        People like you make me comment on your pure fanboy comments. he has a point. Until the last sentence…

        • Lesliecamping

          no he hasn’t

    • Bratty

      iOS never had the functionality of Android? I guess we can debate that but the fact is Android is always in beta. The very fact that people are excited about rooting their phone to make it work better tells you all you need to know.

      • Anonymous

        You can say the same thing about people who jail break their iphones lol.

      • Vince

        Hey that’s hilarious! Oh wait gaurenteed u check out how many I devices are jailbroken and u check out how many android devices are rooted. There would be a vast majority of I devices jailbroken. And android minimal. And android out numbers iPhones device wise 1 to like 27 last I checked.

        • Vince

          And on a second note the reason more I devices are jailbroken are because anyone can do it. While android there are a handful that can do it properly and correctly. Can you say lack of security. And go ahead and throw your virus crap at me cuz its a Linux kernal. It has been modified so deeply it can hardly be called that anymore security is a complete non issue with android while my itouch got 5 viruses from app store applications at that.

          • Do you actually know what your talking about? The issues that were going on with android were Malware. Yes there were security issues but any phone that can be hacked has security issues… doesn’t matter if its malware or jailbreaking. Android actually doesn’t have the functionality of Android… Jailbroken or not. Not trying to sound fanboyish but I have had both devices and yes back in the early days of Android that was a bit of a issue where you could download malware and apps that caused issues in security from the app store but even then I never came across that issue myself and I have had MANY MANY android phones. Just because you don’t root android phones a lot doesn’t mean that Jailbroken iPhones can compare to the functionality that Android gives and thats actually the reason android is so difficult to use and another reason you most likely don’t root android phones that much is because most of the features that you need to Jailbreak a iPhone to get you already have when buying a Android phone. Rooting is for ADVANCED users and should remain that way because one mistake can brick your phone.

    • For me personally, I felt that the Android O.S. held back the hardware. Android, from my own personal use, had more stability problems than iOS. I’m hoping and wishing that Ice Scream Sandwich changes my feelings on the Android platform. 

    • Radu Tanasescu

      Android stole the whole concept, a touchscreen only phone which uses your finger as a stylus and has pinch to zoom and a capable web browser.

      IOS took a slide notifications center. Wow, people really forgot how smartphones were before the iPhone.

      • Paco29681

        i’ve always used my finger as a stylus on touchscreen phones…

  • David

    It looks nice. Can’t wait to see how it preforms. Though it hasn’t turned me off of iOS for multiple reasons. The screen is too big, the screen technology isn’t good (pentile), the battery seems too small for good battery life, the camera doesn’t seem like it’ll best Apple’s, etc. We’ll see, but this phone won’t be the one that gets me to switch. I would prefer a better screen size and such and I just, prefer iOS.

    • Eddy

      If anything the screen size is the best so far. As long as the phone fits in the hand comfortably the bigger the screen the better it is. If iphone had screen size > 4.5in I would have totally gone with that.

    • Djevolution04

      your complaining about having a bigger screen? 

    • Atmancloud

      I love my screen size. Galaxy s2, in my mind iPhone has a small screen…

    • Eric C.

      – Yeah Android screens are typically bigger then the IPhones, though one you use em, it really is better. And the screen size dosent really affect the size of the phone on this one, just as big as any other 4.3″ Inch screen android phone.
      –  Androids battery usually goes down faster then IOS, because IOS is a more simple OS, dosent take as much.
      – Samsung [Amoled] Pentile is gonna be different the Motorola’s (though I love em. <3) Its not gonna be as crisp, but you cant even really notice, I think i heard it was the only way for them to get full 720p res. Bigger then Apple will get anytime soon.
      – Have you seen the 1080p sample of a beach? Wow,  better then the IPhone, or any phone  for the matter.

      • Bratty

        1. Bigger screen – that makes android better?
        2. Battery drains faster on androids because the OS is inferior. Plus the OS is not optimized for the hardware.
        3. If you can “see” the difference above 300 ppi, you are special. Good job.
        4. Have you read any reviews of the 4S camera? People who actually have used the phone (you have not) have different opinions. You can look at a sample and get gaga.

        • Anonymous

          with ios5 the battery on the 4s drained pretty fast. Not to mention you say it is inferior yet what does ios really do? It works and doesn’t do much more which is why the battery lasts longer. I mean it is just a grid of icons, no true multi tasking, etc. Android may not be better but I would wait and try ICS before you make a comment.

        • Bratty, from what you just said, you clearly don’t understand anything about smart phones and how OS’s actually work, because almost all of what you said from a fact stand point and not bias one, is completely wrong. Please do some research before making such bold statements. 

          • Actually, no, he’s right. On Android, pretty much everything runs in DalvikVM, a virtual machine. iOS applications are all compiled native. So which is most optimised? Plus, iOS’s approach to multitasking makes so much more sense for a device that runs on a small battery. 

        • Anonymous

          bigger screen is more or less better as long as the phone is the same size, and in most cases it is

    • Groundhabit

      the phone is actually smaller then you expect … and the screen is actually better then apples retina display … it has far more resolution  … the camera is actually perform just as good if not better then the one in IOS … how do you think apple got to the ” New HD camera ” they got it all from the lawsuit stuff they were looking at from Samsung … the battery will perform better then the one in the iphone4s because not only the cpu runs smoother but you can control from the phone what apps use the cpu while its on standby … all that is part of management that android has included for users … And i really think that you forgot who is the best display maker in the market … we all know Samsung beats LG TVs any day and the retina display on the Iphone is made by LG

  • Anonymous

    I’ll eat my hat if updates are remotely faster. Same with if it isn’t laggy anymore, doesn’t have inconsistent UI elements, and has a store full of malware.

    Posted from an Android phone.

    • Bratty

      Forget malware. Updates are not coming faster than now. Heck many phones less than a year old are waiting for 2.3. The usual response – root your phone.

  • I like android, I had (still do) the HTC desire(rooted running cyanogen mod 7.1)  and then bought the galaxy s2 (rooted), but I have always told my friends that are buying a smart phone that android is a really fast OS, but it is by no means a smooth OS. But now android 4.0 has hardware acceleration all round, it should now be a fluid and smooth OS to use. Also, I would always tell them that they should go with htc or Samsung as their major edits to the android ui makes it more intuitive and relative to stock 2.2/2.3. I am happy now that I can say to them that they should get stock android device now. I couldn’t be more happy with this update, I can’t wait to flash ice cream sandwich on my galaxy s2 when a usable rom is released. I like android because of the unlimited customization and the productivity the widgets allow me to have, but I have always thought IOS 4+ was a lot more refined in the way it looked, but now I feel android 4.0 is looking the far more beautiful looking than IOS. 

  • Anonymous

    I think apple needs to change the monotonous grid of icons and make it more appealing. Yes it is easy to use but it doesn’t really give you much looks wise. I think if apple changed that they would pull ahead once again.

  • Apple wins in simplicity. Just saying.

    • Vince

      Ok u have that. Don’t call it a smartphone than.

      • Windows Mobile 6 must be for supersmartphones

  • Nick

    I wish apple would let people not have the grid. Otherwise I love my 3GS.

  • I have had Android for a couple of years now. I have been anti Apple for a very long time. I stood my ground as an Android geek for as long as I could. The glitches, the lagging, and all of the errors I encountered on a daily basis was enough to drive me to the iPhone 4 a couple of months ago. As bored as I am with this damn thing, it works. It is very smooth, its polished, and never once have I had any issues with it. I think ICS & Galaxy Nexus is the final piece to the puzzle. Granted I have to experience it first hand but I truly believe this is the phone that is bringing me back to Android. Like I said dont get me wrong, Apple hardware is absolutely phenomenal (screen is way too small for me), and so is the software, as far as reliability goes. You can bank on me pulling the Nexus off the shelf at work and setting aside for myself on launch day! That’s just my .02

  • Henry0212

    Niggas need to get a life. shit.

  • Apples software is really easy to get used too, and its also very sleek to the eye. But it wouldn’t hurt if the change it at all or even let you customis or even have more add on to your screens!! idk just something would be nice!! it was been almost the same thing for about 4 years now!!  

  • Love

    Umm no! LOL. It’s really funny hearing people talk about android OS like it is anywhere near being as good or polished as iOS . Android is NOT better. What kind of phone gets viruses? Like seriously. The android market has literally no security which means people can make apps that are pure virus. iDevices just don’t get viruses (unless jailbroken). And about android apple “stealing” the notification bar. Seriously? Android stole Apples entire idea of a phone. Flat. Multitouch Touchscreen. Lock screen. Home button. Earphone jack. Built in music player. An online store for purchasing applications. Apple did it all first, why can you find all of this in like all android phones? Stealing Apples Idea.

    • Love

      Correction: Lock screen= lock/power button*

    • You are the very epitome of why many people hate apple users. Well done.

      Unless you’re being sarcastic. In which case Well done on trolling!

  • Anonymous

    I notice that the Android is said to vastly out sell iOS – well on the OS side of things, yes, but I think if you compare sales on a phone by phone basis then you would find that the iPhone outsells any other phone by a long way.
    Also I do remember what phones were like before the iPhone and I also remember the incredible effect the iPhone had in forcing all other companies to actually try and create good phones.

    It is a matter of record that Android came in to being as a direct theft by a then member of the Apple board.

    Before I get any of the usual ‘your just a fanboy’ childish rhetoric, I don’t have an iPhone.

    • Bobcat091

      That’s the beauty of android. Multiple makers of phones with one software. Apple to continue it’s growth eventually will have to do the same thing and extend OS to multiple platform’s.

      • Anonymous

        But don’t you see, that is what makes Apple different. It is what has always made them different. And may I say that by sticking to that ‘difference’ they have been incredibly successful :-)
        (The rest of this comment is not directed at Bobcat091, but is a general comment)

        If someone wants the frisson of living with an App store that can at times resemble the wild west (and all that goes with it) If what Android offers is what someone wants, then fine, great, buy a phone powered by Android, but, equally, if someone wants the iOS/hardware combo which is all overseen by Apple then equally great.

        In my world it is called choice (suprisingly ;-)) and I for one really hope that Apple do not go down the same route as Microsoft or Android by trying to be all things to all people.

        I really don’t understand why people who prefer one over the other can’t just be happy that they have the choice and stop behaving like immature brats who indulge in this seemingly never ending “mines better than yours” or “I’ve got this one so yours must be rubbish” – it is so ridiculous and sadly there are brats on both sides who go from blog to blog and site to site just to spew their childish rubbish.

  • Mrd1

    The New razor phone looks the size of carry on luggage. Are we going back to the beginning when bag phones were in style? First huge phones, then so small they got lost in your pocket and now back to huge. Maybe next people will try to just hold an  Ipad up to their ear. Might be kind of hard to take a photo using one that big as well. What ever some people may think, the size of the iphone is a good size for a PHONE…

  • Anonymous

  • I think the only thing keeping me with my iPhone is the design, camera, reliability, music interface, retina display, and my loyalty to the brand. I don’t think I could get used to anything else. Only thing with the iPhone is it’s so vanilla. It’s layout and UI gets so boring after awhile. 

  • Lesliecamping

    iphone 4[E] (ever)

  • Michael

    Yes, ICS is making me consider leaving iOS. I have a GS2 right now but am strongly considering returning it for an iPhone 4S aas I had a 3GS since launch up until a couple weeks ago. Android is just not as refined and usuable as ios no matter the customization level of android. ICS may change my thoughts on that, and I may hold out for it on mmy GS2. iOS just has a way about it… it just works, no if, ands, or buts about it. That’s why its such a hit, because everyone and there mother can use it. If something goes wrong in android you really have to be a tech guru to figure it out (luckily I am), but for my mom and dad who both have iPhones, android would be way over there heads I feel. Not many people want to take the time to learn how best to customize there device. It even took me awhile to figure out androids ins and out, when I got an iPhone got was up and running in seconds, and jailbroken later that night.

    Just my two cents on the matter