Galaxy S2 Owners Soon To Get Their Ice Cream Sandwich

Samsung has finally announced that it has begun the process of rolling out an Android Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) update for its Galaxy S2 smartphones. Needless to say, the announcement will be music to the ears of Galaxy S2 owners.

While Galaxy S2 owners residing in Poland, Korea, Hungary and Sweden received the update on 13 March, UK owners of the smartphone will have to wait until 19 March to receive their much anticipated update for the new version of Android.

Samsung made the important announcement via its corporate Twitter account and the internet was rife with reactions as soon as it was made.

It has been a curious strategy by Samsung, who were an integral launch partner for Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Despite its Nexus smartphones being one of the first to use it, Galaxy S2 owners have been made to wait for the crucial update. Some have done so patiently, while others have expressed displeasure over the delay.

The Galaxy S2 has been a major force in the smartphone market for Samsung, selling more than 22 million units since the handset’s launch in February 2011, assisting Samsung to rise to its position as the largest seller of smartphones in the last quarter of 2011.

Considering that more than 52% of smartphones are Android-based, the length of time to introduce Android Ice Cream Sandwich for Galaxy S2 smartphones has left many owners puzzled.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich delivers a whole host of features improving usability. Key improvements include the refined touchscreen, far better multi-tasking abilities and a new security feature through which users can unlock their phone via face recognition.

Despite not giving a set date, Samsung has also announced that it plans to update and enhance its Tab and Note features with Android Ice Cream Sandwich in the not too distant future.

Now Samsung has announced a UK date of 19 March for its Android Ice Cream Sandwich update for its Galaxy S2 smartphones should owners be rejoicing? Well, yes and no, because the whole rollout will be staggered according to which network provider Galaxy S2 owners are using, which complicates the issue somewhat.

Once Google has supplied its Android Ice Cream Sandwich source code to a manufacturer like Samsung, the manufacturer must spend time ensuring the software works seamlessly on their hardware, which of course takes considerable time and resources, as it has done with the Galaxy S2.

However, this is only the initial phase, as network providers must then make sure the new software works perfectly with their network, or face the wrath of angry network users disappointed with the service they are being provided.

To date, network providers Three, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange have confirmed that they have received the update from Samsung and will be striving to release the Android Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Galaxy S2 as close to the 19 March date as possible. However, O2 has announced it won’t be releasing the update to their customers until mid-April.

Galaxy S2 owners anxious for more news on the release of Android Ice Cream Sandwich for their smartphones should check the Samsung website and their network providers for updates.

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Google’s Biggest Problem – Focus Part 3

Last time (read article Google’s Biggest Problem – Focus, Google’s Biggest Problem – Focus Part 2), I spelled out what Google was doing with Android. Today, I’m going to wrap it up and bring it home, providing a recommendation that I hope Google will listen to.  Unfortunately, given their track record, I’m not getting my hopes up. Unfortunately, neither should you.

Android is attacking the market en masse. It’s the only way the fragmented OS is capturing share. Its lack of focus provides for a quick product introduction cycle by its 3rd party supporters. For example,

T-Mobile USA currently offers 16 Android smartphones from 6 different manufacturers.
AT&T offers 22 Android smartphones from 7 different manufacturers.
Verizon offers 34 smartphones from 6 different manufacturers.

Most of these phones are either running FroYo (Android 2.2.x), or Gingerbread (Android 2.3.x). Very few of them will run or officially support Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.x). Each manufacturer has added their own launcher and customizations on top of the OS. Nearly all have provided customized versions of some system level apps or components, originally developed by Google.  This has unfortunately created a bigger divide between stock Android and what end users actually use on their devices.

What does this mean, exactly?  In many cases, Google provides the shell and relies on the 3rd party developer to complete the structure. Until recently, and by recently I mean the last 12-18 months, Google resisted the development of an ecosystem. It provided an operating system that would allow users to organize their lives, communicate with the outside world, run apps, listen to music, watch video and read books.  However, it failed to provide a way for users to purchase, organize and manage that content on those devices. Their philosophy – we provide the means, YOU (meaning the hardware OEM or 3rd party developer) provide the way. In the process they’ve lost out on potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in sales and royalties.

It finally recognized this when it introduced Google Music.  From there, you could buy and then stream music directly to your Android phone.  It also modified its Android Market allowing for the sale of not only music, but books, movies as well the standard and familiar device apps.  Music purchased there could be copied to your device and your PC and then synchronized with Google Music’s online music locker.

While this signifies a move in the proper direction, not only for Google and its partners, but for users as well, it doesn’t completely solve the problem. Google needs to further lock down the platform – hardware manufacturers and OEM’s shouldn’t be allowed to have devices with up to three different revisions of the OS in active support at the same time, and shouldn’t be allowed to introduce new products with outdated OS revisions, as they have in the past.

Google is developing focus, but it’s taken approximately 4 years to get here. Frankly, I think Google’s gotten very lucky. Hopefully, they’ve seen the error of their ways, have seen the success their major competitors have in their own ecosystems, and continue to stay focused.

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Google’s Biggest Problem – Focus Part 2

I’ve been watching Google over the past few years and they have one major problem – focus.

Google has a lot to look forward this year – a reincarnation of GoogleTV, Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich, the LTE capable Galaxy Nexus, the list goes on and on really. Its clear, the company is moving and shaking. However, they have one big problem in my opinion – they lack consistent, company-wide focus. (see article Google’s Biggest Problem – Focus)

Last time, we took a very quick look at a number of different products that Google extended a great deal of effort to plan, develop and then introduce and then eventually abandoned due to lack of focus. I bring this up for one important reason – Android.
Of all the products that Google has introduced, those that really seem to have staying power, are mostly connected to Android; or Google has found a way to hook them into Android. Those that didn’t have traction either didn’t fit, or weren’t meant for Android.

Android is an interesting animal in that its focused enough to be adopted by major hardware manufacturers and OEM’s. The problem, however is not adoption, it’s the focus and guidelines Google has placed around the use of its mobile OS that concern me the most.

Just about anyone from the hacker down the street to Samsung and HTC can get ahold of the Android source and SDK and cook a version of the OS. They can modify it most anyway they want, with launcher options that are only limited by the developer’s imagination and available hardware.

While this may seem like a great win for open source and end users everywhere, it really isn’t. It’s a huge problem, actually. All of this openness has led to a great deal of version fragmentation. Google has little to no guidelines on what can or cannot be done with the OS. It also allows multiple revisions of the OS to be actively used at the same time, so any device manufacturer or OEM can use FroYo, Gingerbread or Honeycomb on its devices at the same time. It also hasn’t provided any guidelines on upgrades, and moratoriums for any specific versions.

Come back next time, and I’ll bring it all together, explaining exactly WHY Google’s lack of focus is a problem not only for the market, but for end users as well.

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Google’s Biggest Problem – Focus

I’ve been watching Google over the past few years and they have one major problem – focus.

Google has a lot to look forward this year – a reincarnation of GoogleTV, Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich, the LTE capable Galaxy Nexus, the list goes on and on really. Its clear, the company is moving and shaking. However, they have one big problem in my opinion – they lack consistent, company-wide focus.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen Google introduce a number of different products. It seems that they are GREAT at introducing ideas, but in my opinion, don’t spend enough time developing a clear strategy for each one. The following are a few of their more notable disasters.


Google Buzz
Buzz was Google’s first foray into social networking. Buzz was supposed to take on both Facebook and Twitter. It was received with a great deal of anger and frustration, as no one seemed to understand why Google bothered to create and introduce the service. As a result, failed miserably.


Google Wave
Wave was Google’s attempt to bring email, instant messaging and social networking together. It made a bit of a splash, but exited as less than a ripple. It was overly complicated and competed directly with Gmail, Google’s flagship, non-search related product.


Google Desktop Search
It did what you might think – helped you index and search through all of your local content.


Google is great at introducing and then retiring a great many products. Also of note, Google Gears, Google Video and Google Pages. All of these things were introduced with a great deal of fanfare, were adopted to a varying degree of success and penetration, and then either abandoned, ignored or half-heartedly supported as the public struggled with finishing the product’s definition (what it was supposed to do) and direction (where the product would eventually go).

Come back next time and we’ll address Google’s most successful product to date and try to figure out exactly what and where Google wants to take it.

read Google’s Biggest Problem – Focus Part 2

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Nexus Prime – First Ice Cream Sandwich Smartphone

The Galaxy Nexus had the working title of Nexus Prime, taken from a backstory for the Transformers movie series. It’s an appropriate name as Google is hoping the device will continue to help Android transforming the smartphone market. The Nexus is produced by Samsung but will be specifically marketed by Google itself, following on from the Nexus One and Nexus S.

One of the key elements of the Galaxy Nexus is that it will be the first commercial phone to run Android 4.0, the latest edition of Google’s mobile operating system, with the odd marketing name of Ice Cream Sandwich (previous updates included Cupcake, Eclair, Gingerbread and Honeycomb.)

The most significant development in Android 4.0 is that it is specifically designed to be suitable for both smartphones and tablet devices. That’s led to both an overhaul of the system’s design and a series of new and revised features that will feature on devices including the Galaxy Nexus/Nexus Prime.

The two most dramatic additions are both the stuff of sci-fi movies. There’s a voice recognition system that, although scooped by Apple’s new Siri feature, stands out by allowing unlimited dictation. Even more impressively it’s now possible to use a photo of yourself as the phone lock: facial recognition means that you and you alone can unlock the phone.

Speaking of the camera, the Nexus Prime will be able to use new features that include built-in image editing, the ability to take static images while filming video, and an automated panorama feature that means you simple move the camera round and don’t need to worry about lining up each “shot” so that they stitch together.

Using the Galaxy Nexus should be a breeze as Android 4.0 includes several revisions to the user interface, similar to the way Windows gets updated every few years. You can now organize apps and shortcuts into folders on the home screen, there’s a special favourites tray at the bottom of the screen (similar to the taskbar in Windows), you can adjust the size of widgets (displays of information such as weather updates or stock prices that are updated in real time), and there’s even a graphical display to show exactly how much data you are using — a must for those on contracts with tough data limits. Check the leaked video:

The Nexus Prime’s hardware makes the best of this update: it has two cameras, one which can record HD video, 16GB storage, a dual-core processor (which means fewer freezes or slowdowns), a true HD screen, and even the ability to connect the phone straight to a TV set through a special adaptor cable.

The phone’s unveiling was delayed briefly as a mark of respect after the death of Steve Jobs. It’s now scheduled for release in the UK on 17 November and, as with its predecessors, is only available in unlocked form: that means users must pay the full, unsubsidized price but don’t have to sign up to a mandatory service contract. The phone will be around £550 including VAT from major networks, though Amazon is selling it for £520.

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