More than a year ago, Gate6 convinced me to forgo my Apple products and make the switch to Android. That meant swapping my iPhone for a Motorola Atrix running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and my iPad for a Motorola Xoom running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). I was fine with it, and eventually came to like the change. After all, who doesn’t want Android widgets on their phone or tablet? And I was (and still am) seriously singing the praises of Google Apps (Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, etc.). You could say I was ready to become a total Google guy. I even created one of those cool Androidify caricatures of myself.
As it turns out, Honeycomb couldn’t compare to the ease of operating an iPhone so I quickly switched back. So much for my Android loyalty. And then something miraculous happened. A new Android operating system – Ice Cream Sandwich – was introduced. I fell in love. Having just replaced my Android phone with an iPhone, I decided to replace my iPad2 instead.
There is no arguing that the iPad and iPad2 have great applications for reading books, news, movies, productivity, and of course, a great screen. But I wanted something that was not just portable, it needed to be portable with a capital “P.” Form factor was THE important feature for me, but it had to be form factor wrapped around tightly-integrated services and applications that I will always use.
Then along came the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 – a 7-inch Android Tablet – running Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich. Who likes ice cream sandwiches? This guy, that’s who!
I want to focus on Ice Cream Sandwich so all I will say about the Galaxy Tab 2 is three words: Form Factor, Form Factor, Form Factor. OK, that was six words, but Samsung nailed it.
What is Ice Cream Sandwich?
It’s the code name for Android’s latest release: Version 4.0. And here are a few reasons why it’s kind of a big deal.
- SPEED. This Tab 2 flies! (That is, after you turn off the factory setting under Power Saving > CPU Power Saving, which essentially limits the speed of the CPU to conserve battery life.) Stupid? Yes, but remember, an Android platform offers a wealth of choices. Now that I’ve turned the setting off, my battery life is excellent. Ice Cream Sandwich manages resources so well that I can be connected to wireless networks and Bluetooth devices, check email, catch up on the news via WSJ, read books, listen to music, and stream hours of video. All of this activity and I still have battery life left at the end of the day.
- INTEGRATION. Integration is something Apple has always done well, but until Ice Cream Sandwich came along, Android couldn’t say the same. While Google Apps have always been up-to-par, Google is now showing they really mean it. Email, calendar, music, web, tasks, chat, etc., all work seamlessly with Ice Cream Sandwich. Do you use Chrome? Your bookmarks can be automatically synched to your tablet or phone just like they are on your desktop. Looking for storage? Google Cloud Drive (previously Google Docs) is accessible from your Android phone or tablet and also works seamlessly with Ice Cream Sandwich.
- APPS & WIDGETS. They were there with Honeycomb, but Google has really stepped up to the plate since then. Play Store, rebranded in March 2012, is Google’s answer to Apple’s App Store. The best part is that when you download any of these apps and widgets, they run like greased lightning on Ice Cream Sandwich. Widgets are resizable and allow you to actually display useful information on the screen without having to start the app to see it. Fancy Widget is a great example — you can see a visual display of the weather and time at your current location, all without actually having to run an app.
Tired of iTunes? Google Play Music lets you upload 20,000 songs free of charge and any music you purchase through the Play Store is stored at no charge. Pick and choose the music you want available on your device depending on how much storage you have available and any changes or additions to those playlists are automatically pushed to your device. This feature alone has iTunes and Amazon Cloud player beat.
- MULTITASKING. While this feature was available with Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich has optimized it so users can easily jump from one app to the next without missing a beat. The latest iOS (iPhone & iPad devices) provides similar functions, but not nearly to the extent that the Android 4.0 OS does. With Ice Cream Sandwich, you can easily see what is running, resources consumed by each individual app, and the ability to open or close those apps with the swipe of a finger.
- SYSTEM NOTIFICATIONS. Ice Cream Sandwich has taken what Honeycomb started and bumped it up a notch. To me, it’s a tool I just can’t do without. Through Android notifications, you can easily see what’s going on right now without having to start every app to take a look. You can pick and choose items you want to deal with in real-time, then jump right back to that important movie that you were watching.
I keep going back to the reason I wanted my iPhone back so badly – it just worked. Now, with Ice Cream Sandwich, the Android 4.0 tagline should be: “Ice Cream Sandwich, it just works.” And that is why I say NO, I don’t need an iPad anymore — I have an Android 4.0 Tablet that kicks butt.
Now if only I was eligible for that AT&T phone upgrade, I could trade in my iPhone and make my Android conversion complete…