Google has teamed up with Samsung to launch the first smartphone to run the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform, which is designed to work on mobile devices and tablets.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the follow up to the Google Nexus S and packs a raft of hardware and software upgrades, as Google aims to counter the release of the iPhone 4S.
Key features include a 4.65in Super Amoled HD screen with a resolution of 1280x720 and a dual-core 1.2GHz processor together with 1GB of RAM. There will be a choice of 16GB or 32GB of internal storage.
The 135g handset will also feature a front facing 1.3-megapixel camera, a rear 5-megapixel camera with LED Flash and zero shutter lag and have full HD recording capabilities. A meaty 1,750 mAh battery will also power the device.
Near Field Communications (NFC), HSPA+ and LTE connectivity will be included, although users in the UK will not be able to make full use of these features at this time as the relevant infrastructures are not yet in place.
The main selling point will be the Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, which is another major revamp to the Android platform. Google has created a brand new font that's optimised for HD displays and eliminated all hardware buttons in favour of virtualised buttons, much like the Honeycomb platform.
"With Ice Cream Sandwich, our mission was to build a mobile OS that works on both phones and tablets, and to make the power of Android enticing and intuitive," noted Andy Rubin senior vice president of mobile at Google on the Official Google Blog.
"We also dramatically improved the keyboard, made notifications more interactive and created resizable widgets."
Google has borrowed from the HTC Sense 3.0 interface, allowing users to access apps directly from lock screen, and it is possible to create folders by dragging apps on top of each other much like iOS.
Facial recognition software has been integrated, which will allow users to unlock their Galaxy Nexus via the Face Unlock app and recent apps style multitasking which was introduced in Honeycomb has been retained.
Web browsing has been improved, with Rubin claiming that Ice Cream Sandwich contains a "desktop-class browser". The Galaxy Nexus will be able to sync your bookmarks with Google Chrome, users will be able "flick" tabs away to close them, and a "save for offline" feature will save articles to be viewed later.
Crucially, users will be able to accurately track data usage for the first time. Ice Cream Sandwich shows exactly how much data is being used, which apps are using data and will also allow data limits to be set. Voice input has also been improved, allowing users to dictate emails and texts or enter text for tasks such as searching.
Google had also added a People app, which will have Google+ built in. The app will pull photos and updates from Google+ and other social networks, in a similar way that the Windows Phone 7 People Hub does.
Finally, Google will has introduced a feature called Android Beam, which allows users to tap phones together and share web pages, YouTube videos, maps, directions and apps using NFC. A demo of Android Ice Cream Sandwich is available below.
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