The Little Things I Love and Hate About Ice Cream Sandwich

Because of the hard work of some amazing developers, the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich has been ported to older devices thanks to the AOSP. My phone, the original HTC Desire – released in summer 2010 – can now run the software, so I thought I should highlight a few little things I like, and a few I don’t, about ICS.

You can find out more about the ICS ROM I am using here.

✔ Loves

• Orientation change animation – a first for the Android OS. This little feature is one thing that just smooths off the experience.

• Window change animation – the current screen flies back slightly before a new window opens, again polishing off the experience.

• Roboto – Android’s new font is very well designed and works in ICS perfectly, though it never seems to look as nice anywhere else.

• Pop-up action bars – the Android SDK now allows developers to make an ‘action bar’ pop up when an item is long-pressed. This speeds up operation within apps.

• Honeycomb features on your phone! – It’s nice to see things from the original Honeycomb presentation now on phones. Things like the carousel layout add a little more sparkle to apps.

• Better widgets – one important Honeycomb feature was richer widgets. ICS includes many beautiful layouts including stacks.

• Everything is more social in the People app – the contacts app has seen a total redesign in ICS, with socialisation now the main focus. Quick contact cards let you see all your contacts’ details in a snap. One thing I did notice is that the app has not been renamed at the root level, showing Google may not be as amazed by the new app as we are.

✘ Hates

Quick note: overall, I love ICS, but these little things just seem so much worse when compared to the brilliance of the rest of the update.

• No support for BBC iPlayer – on my Desire, the BBC iPlayer didn’t work. The update appears to be unsupported by non-Galaxy Nexus which supports my theories for an upcoming update to the iPlayer.

• Lacking Facebook integration – because of the war between Facebook and Google+, Google seems to have initially left Facebook out of the new People sharing, meaning they will be behind in the way of social integration – this is not a Facebook phone.

• Some design – This is barely even a point, but I fail to see the attraction of the scrollable Gmail widget in ICS. It is a muddy, transparent white colour and just does not fit in with the rest of the UI.

• Persistent search bar – In the ICS launcher, I want the option to remove the Google Search bar. I do use it, but really do not mind having it as a normal widget on one screen to save space.

• ICS is just not available – only 0.6% of Android users use Ice Cream Sandwich at this point, simply because carriers are failing to update older devices. The update was open sourced three months ago, but still only a few OEMs and manufacturers and carriers have pushed updates – this is what holds Android back.

What do you think?

Are you one of the lucky 0.6% with ICS? If so, what is your favourite feature, and if not, what are you most looking forward to in the update?

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