Today, in Hong Kong, Google and Samsung announced Samsung’s newest smartphone, the Galaxy Nexus, and it looks to be at the top of the class when it comes to Android smartphones this holiday season. The Galaxy Nexus will have a 4.65” touchscreen with a clear 1280×720 resolution display. The rear-facing camera is 1080p capable, sports an LED flash, and can record video at 30 frames per second. The hardware is, for the most part, cutting edge (including a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor), but it’s the software that might really raise some eyebrows.
The Galaxy Nexus is the first announced device to run on Android 4.o, otherwise known as Ice Cream Sandwich. Ice Cream Sandwich represents a dramatically different look for Android, providing a crisper, sleeker presentation mostly dominated by shades of blue. The camera is now accessible from the lock-screen, which now includes a facial-recognition security option (though the demo did not work properly during the press conference). Multi-tasking features scrollable tabs showing you recently used apps, while notifications are clearer and tell you how many items are in each notification. For both the multi-tasking tabs and notification tabs, you can swipe individual items away to the left or right to get rid of them quickly. To answer calls from the lock-screen, you can swipe left to reject and right to answer. If you reject, there is a pre-set selection of texts you can send to explain why you’re busy. There does not appear to be an “Oh, not that guy again” selection.
Also of note is the absence of the search, home, back, and menu buttons. Like in Honeycomb, these will appear as you need them on the UI itself. Screenshots are now possible by holding down the lock and volume down buttons simultaneously. NFC makes Android Beam possible, a way for two phones next to each other to transfer contacts, links, or apps almost instantly. It’s not on par with Siri, but you can dictate messages while using your e-mail. Unlike before, you can pause in the middle of a message without worrying about the dictation ending. The software will record your text in real-time until you signal that you are done with your message.
The SDK is available now, and developers should take note that hardware acceleration is on by default in Ice Cream Sandwich.
Pricing is unknown, but the Samsung Galaxy Nexus should be available in the United States, Asia, and Europe sometime in November. Better get ready to make your holiday pre-orders – this device looks a lot like the future.