Here's some more news on the never-ending Ice Cream Sandwich update front for those still waiting.
First, Sprint has confirmed that the Nexus S -- the collaboration between Google and Samsung that was first outed in December 2010 -- will be getting Ice Cream Sandwich in the coming weeks. That's good news for Nexus S owners, though one might note that many of those owners are likely due for upgrades in about eight months, so the joys of ICS on the Nexus S for some might be short-lived.
We've also gotten a few news updates on when a few newer handsets will be receiving Android 4.0. The HTC Rezound, for example, will be getting Ice Cream Sandwich any moment now, according to Engadget; a commenter on Engadget claims that a Verizon rep told him that ICS would be coming to the Rezound some time this week. So if you're rockin' the Beats Audio HTC handset from late 2011, you could be tasting Ice Cream as soon as this weekend.
[UPDATE: A Verizon spokesman told Wireless and Mobile News that an update for the Rezound will not be rolling out over the holiday weekend; he could not confirm a date when the device would get ICS.]
Not so lucky are owners of the Razr and Razr Maxx, Motorola's two super-slim, super lightweight flagship smartphones. Though a popular rumor claimed that both of those phones would be receiving Ice Cream Sandwich on April 4th, but that date has come and gone; on Motorola's official Twitter account, as spotted by Droid-Life, requests for a definitive release date have been brushed aside with a disappointing PR line: "The DROID RAZR MAXX is receiving ICS but we do not have a release date for you. We'll share more details soon."
According to Motorola's official Ice Cream Sandwich release schedule, both the Droid Razr and Droid Razr Maxx are still in phase 1 of 4 ("Evaluation & Planning") on the long road to ICS. If that's accurate, then Motorola still has to develop and test the software, and the mobile carriers have to test the software and give the approval before an update goes out. That could be a while, as American carriers are notoriously slow at testing and approving Android updates.
Also this week: A first look at Ice Cream Sandwich for the hot-selling Samsung Galaxy Note leaked, and early adopters can grab it now. Despite a couple glitches, Engadget's Zachary Lutz reports that the phablet's ICS is "in excellent shape." Samsung has previously said that the Galaxy Note update should be coming in April or May.
And so the Ice Cream Sandwich update train rolls on. Though adoption still sits at just under three percent, early reports from HTC Vivid users who have received their ICS updates show that with Android 4.0, phone performance increased dramatically across almost all metrics. With Ice Cream Sandwich, you're not just getting Face Unlock: You're refreshing the power your Android smartphone as well.
As more and more Android smartphones ship with Ice Cream Sandwich pre-installed, and with Android 5.0 Jelly Bean threatening to rear its head any month now, the priority for some manufacturers to update their older handsets with Android 4.0 might be diminishing. But you know whose Ice Cream Sandwich update priorities are not diminishing? The Huffington Post's. We'll keep you updated on all the latest Ice Cream Sandwich news as it develops.
And while you're waiting for your upgrade, why not take a look through some of the sweet Ice Creamy features you've been missing out on (below).
Ice Cream Sandwich's totally revamped interface places even more emphasis on Google's search bar and aims at making Android more user-friendly. Among the new features are a new typeface called "Roboto" with more rounded letters, as well as scrollable and re-sizable widgets. The snazzy UI also places more of an emphasis on finger gestures.
What's different about camera functions in Android 4.0? A whole lot, starting with Instagram-esque photo-editing tools and deeper integration with social networks. <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/18/a-quick-ice-cream-sandwich-feature-rundown/" target="_hplink">TechCrunch is gaga over the improvements</a>, lauding the "image stabilization, improved autofocus, and integration with other apps for sending photos or instant upload to Google+. Oh, and who could forget built-in face detection, panorama and time lapse modes, and on-the-fly photo retouching and enhancements." Like Apple's new iOS 5, Android users will also be able to access the camera right from the lock screen.
Android 4.0 users can rest easy, knowing that their devices will feature the nifty Face Unlock, which scans the user's face before unlocking the gadget.
A data management tool will help the user understand the amount of data their favorite apps use. This tool will also let the user set data limits for herself, and it will send warnings to notify the user when her data use approaches those limits.
Not only will it look sleeker on handsets, Android's native browser will now place more emphasis on tabs and offline productivity. "Users can keep up to 16 tabs open, view a live preview of each and quickly switch between them," <a href="http://www.bgr.com/2011/10/18/google-unveils-android-4-0-ice-cream-sandwich-for-smartphones-tablets/" target="_hplink">explains By Genius Report</a>. "Tabs can be closed by flicking them off of the screen much like webOS or RIM's tablet OS. Google also automatically syncs bookmarks to your Android browser from Chrome, and users can save pages for offline reading."
Gmail users, rejoice! Here's what's new with Google's celebrated email app, <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/18/a-quick-ice-cream-sandwich-feature-rundown/" target="_hplink">according to TechCrunch</a>: "Gmail now supports two-line previews, and sports a new context-sensitive action bar at the bottom of the screen. Gesture support allows you to swipe left and right between emails." <a href="http://www.bgr.com/2011/10/18/google-unveils-android-4-0-ice-cream-sandwich-for-smartphones-tablets/" target="_hplink">Boy Genius Report notes</a> that Gmail will support offline search, too.
Though it's no Siri, Google has upgraded its hands-free speech recognition feature, which lets users dictate text, send messages, open media files and more. <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/242139/apples_ios_5_vs_googles_android_40_ice_cream_sandwich.html" target="_hplink">Per PCWorld</a>: "ICS voice command software now has a hands free feature that lets you activate voice actions just by speaking to your phone instead of pressing a button." "play music, search the web, and dictate notes, SMS and email messages."
Google touts the security of its Android Beam wireless transfer system, which lets users share content between devices equipped with Near-Field Communication (aka NFC) technology. <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/18/google-announces-nfc-based-android-beam-for-sharing-between-phon/" target="_hplink">Engadget explains how the system will work</a>: Much like HP's ill-fated Touch-to-share functionality, it will let you simply tap two NFC-enabled devices together to share a piece of information. That will work with a range of apps and services in Android, including YouTube videos, contact information, maps, web pages" and more. While you can transfer content from apps, you can't transfer the apps themselves, but Engadget notes that Android Beam "links to apps in the Android Market.
Designed with an eye toward button-free Android handsets, version 4.0 of Google's operating system relies more on finger gestures and integrates navigation buttons and music controls into the user interface. The feature could lead to a new generation of sleeker devices with fewer hardware buttons. But will these virtual buttons get in user's way? <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/18/a-quick-ice-cream-sandwich-feature-rundown/" target="_hplink">TechCrunch says no</a>: "[T]hey smartly disappear when viewing video or in widescreen mode."
"The notification window is now slightly translucent with a glowing dot when you pull it downward," <a href="http://thisismynext.com/2011/10/18/exclusive-matias-duarte-ice-cream-sandwich-galaxy-nexus/" target="_hplink">according to This Is My Next</a>. "Notifications can be swiped away one at a time, mirroring webOS 3.0 behavior. You can access your notifications on the lock screen if you're not using a passcode, and you can jump quickly to your settings through the window shade."
Version 4.0 will work on any Android device, be it tablet or smartphone. "Ice Cream Sandwich is the OS that's supposed to put a damper on all that fragmentation talk," <a href="http://venturebeat.com/2011/10/18/ice-cream-sandwich-debut/" target="_hplink">writes VentureBeat</a>. "[T]he 2.X OS for phones and the 3.X OS for tablets will give way to the 4.X OS for all Android devices."
ICS bakes deeper social integration into many apps. Perhaps the most social is the "People" app. <a href="http://www.bgr.com/2011/10/18/google-unveils-android-4-0-ice-cream-sandwich-for-smartphones-tablets/" target="_hplink">BGR writes</a> that this new app "pulls in contact information and photos from social networks for your whole address book. Whenever a contact updates his or her info, it is also automatically updated on your phone."