The latest version of the world’s favorite Operating System, Android, was released nearly five months ago now, and it’s finally starting to gain some momentum in the smartphone world. Android version 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, is easily the best version of the OS yet, featuring a complete overhaul of the user interface since version 2.3, Gingerbread. (Version 3.0, Honeycomb, was a tablet-only OS, for those of you who were wondering where the missing number was.) It features completely new graphics, animations, and typefaces, as well as better text-input and phone lock settings – everything is easier, faster and prettier with Ice Cream Sandwich.
So why is it taking phone manufacturers so long to get on the ICS wagon? It’s understandable that a good portion of handsets are still being released with older software, because budget phones like the Samsung Galaxy Pocket don’t stock the power, performance or price tag to get ICS behind them, but when high-end handsets like the Sony Xperia Arc S are still being shipped out with Gingerbread onboard, it’s got to be noted that something’s amiss. We’d understand if ICS were some kind of abomination, but it’s not – it’s proved imminently popular with critics and users alike, so what’s the hold-up?
At least the good news is that Ice Cream Sandwich uptake is finally rising, doubling in the last month. The Android website has recently published figures stating that 2.9% of Android handsets are now running on Ice Cream Sandwich. These stats still aren’t amazing, admittedly, but it’s a welcome increase compared to the 1.6% of gadgets running version 4.0 in the first week of March. It’s also a decent hike compared to the 0.6% of handsets running it back in early January. A lot of high-end handsets, including the Sony Xperia Arc S, will be released with Android Gingerbread and the manufacturer claiming that updates to ICS will be available in the near future.
Updates are all very well and good, but when you’re paying £400+ for a handset, it’s difficult not to feel a little short-changed when you get lumped with an OS that’s been technically ‘outdated’ for over five months. This is perhaps one reason why HTC’s new One line – the HTC One X, S and V – might prove to be pretty popular with hardcore Android fanatics. Every single model comes with Ice Cream Sandwich – and that’s including their single-core 1GHz HTC One V. If the HTC One V can power ICS, why can’t the Sony Xperia Ion? Or the LG Optimus 3D Max?
Why Ice Cream Sandwich is taking so long to get off the ground is a mystery – it could be that manufacturers are happy with Gingerbread, which is a very good OS in its own right, and would rather ‘let the dust settle’ before moving on. Whatever the reason, though, it’s a positive sign to see the uptake of ICS growing steadily now that the OS has had a good few months of being prodded and analyzed. Here’s hoping to see Ice Cream Sandwich just as prevalent as Gingerbread by this time next year. Ironically, by then ICS may already have been rendered obsolete by the next iteration of Android’s OS – Android 5.0, rumoured to be called Jelly Bean.
Perhaps smartphone manufacturers have simply come to appreciate that for every new OS, there’s always a sleeker, slicker one just around the corner. Instead of trying to play keep up with the Androids, why not simply be happy with the OS you’ve got? It’s a nice sentiment, but try telling that to the millions of consumers who are clamoring to get their hands on the latest, greatest OS, be it Honeycomb, Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean. At the rate they’re being released at, Android is in danger of running out of confectionary names before the decade is out.
This was a guest post by Simon from Best Mobile Contracts, a leading mobile phone comparison website in the UK and a great place to find a new Android phone.