Thoughts on Android 4.0

After much effort, I recently was able to get Android 4.0 on my LG Nitro. The history of this effort is filled with failed attempts to root the device and install CM9 (a 4.0 ROM made by Cyanogenmod). I’m no sissy when it comes to rooting Android devices. I’ve had an HTC Magic, Samsung Captivate, HTC Inspire (4G haha), Samsung Nexus S 4G, and a Motorola Triumph, all of which I had rooted and installed on a newer version of Android than made available by the carrier.

This time the Nitro got the best of me, whether it was my lack of time to invest in rooting or my lack of interest (after 6 phones, you get tired of messing with them). That was until LG slipped up and leaked an Ice Cream Sandwich (that’s the tasty name for Android 4.0) for the Nitro. I’ve got you now, my precious! After playing with the new OS for a few days, I wanted to detail my initial thoughts on it.

Android feels polished… ?

Android as mobile platform has long lacked any sort of refinement. It’s kind of like driving a Nascar stock car. It has a lot of power and will get you were you want to go, but there’s no air conditioning or any amenities like that. Contrast this with iOS, which is more like a mid-range Mercedes sedan. Still fast and costs about the same, but you’re more likely to find a wine cooler in the back seat than a fire extinguisher. This has changes quite a bit with Android 4.0. The rough edges have largely been replaced with slick animations and clean lines. ICS took the UI improvements of Honeycomb (which wasn’t built for phones) and merged them in to the mainstream handset version of Android.

Gestures!

Android 4.0 includes some pretty handy gestures that let you manipulate your device with movements. A lot of my infatuation with this feature is the ability to snooze and alarm by turning your phone over. This might not be great for my overall goal of getting up on time in the morning, but it sure does feel good to not even have to open my eyes to snooze my alarm. You can also enable the ability to silence an incoming call by flipping the device over. Side note: this might not be available on all Android 4.0 ROMs… maybe LG put that cookie in there?

Bloatware be gone.

In the past, if you bought an Android phone from AT&T, the would install anywhere from three to five apps automatically. Things like AT&T Navigator and AT&T Hotspot finder apps are very likely useful to someone out there, but not me. So at first I was like, “Hey, I’ll just uninstall those apps I don’t need”. Wrong. In older Android versions, carriers could deem an app “un-uninstallable”. There is hope, now! Ice Cream Sandwich allows you to uninstall any app on your device. Pretty awesome, right? No more AT&T Navigator plugging up my app collection. Then I noticed I couldn’t uninstall Google Books (or Play Books or whatever they call it now). Well, at least some of these evil chains have been removed.

What’s missing? Good battery life…

While ICS brought many goodies to the world of Android, it did leave one off that I am craving: longer battery life. As it stands, surviving two days on a single charge with an Android phone is a feat worthy of a trophy and screaming girls gathered around you. Now, I know the RAZR Maxx has that crazy 3300mAh battery, but most of us are stuck with 1200-1800mAh and it just doesn’t cut it. And I regret to inform you that ICS doesn’t noticeably improve on Android’s battery consumption issue.

So in the end, Android 4.0 is the best Android version yet. And leaves something to be desired. But isn’t that how progress usually goes?