Android continues to offer configuration options within individual applications as well as centrally located system settings. Once again the lack of a dedicated, system-wide menu button forced Google to rely on a settings icon alone to get you to the system settings panel.

Although most of the configurable options remain unchanged from Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich, Google completely reorganized the Android system settings page. What used to be a convoluted mess of items that weren't always placed logically has now turned into something far more sensible:

Gingerbread vs. Ice Cream Sandwich
  Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwich

Location settings are now separate from security and there's now a dedicated backup & erase section. Subtle changes like these seem to make a lot more sense than the organization in Gingerbread. I find myself spending far less time staring blankly at the ICS settings menus than I did in Gingerbread. Let's hope Google's partners don't go in and shift things around too much.

ICS includes a complete set of cool developer options, above and beyond the ability to enable USB debugging. You can force GPU accelerated drawing system-wide, even in apps that don't explicitly request it. You can overlay CPU usage data on the screen, cause any part of the screen that has been redrawn to flash wildly and even mark up the screen with your last touch events:

Most of this isn't useful to an end user but for a developer or just someone who's curious, it's fun stuff. More generally applicable however is the ability to turn on a little circle that follows your finger around the touch screen similar to what's always used in touchscreen demo videos.

There's also official support for adjusting mouse pointer speed, an obvious inclusion for dockable tablets like the Transformer Prime.

Copying via MTP or PTP

With Honeycomb we saw Google treat tablets as Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) devices rather than traditional USB mass storage devices. For Windows users there was no difference as MTP is natively supported in Vista and 7. Mac users have to rely on third party support for MTP, which Google provided via its own free Android File Transfer application.

Given that Android exposes much of the file system to the end user, MTP is a safer bet for protecting against corruption from both Android and the connected Mac/PC modifying data on the NAND at the same time.

Business is as usual for Windows users as ICS based devices just appear as a drive letter thanks to native MTP support. If you want to access an ICS device as you would a camera (perhaps for a specific application), Google allows you to toggle between MTP and PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol).

Email & Gmail The Galaxy Nexus - Hardware and Aesthetics


View All Comments

  • roedtogsvart - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    Finally! Reply
  • prophet001 - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - link

    Just had one of this hit my desk today :D very nice phone. Reply
  • Owls - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    No offense but I'm kind of pissed after reading this article with what amounts to a masturbatory article about the iphone 4s.

    For example on an ipad 2 and iphone 4s there is plenty of lag here and there using the UI on par with gingerbread. On ICS? It's pratically nonexistent.

    The camera? The only issue I found was that on Auto the shots didn't always come out great. Some manual adjustments fixed that and after comparing the shots to my dad's iphone 4s there's virtually no difference.

    I pretty much stopped reading after the camera section.
  • michael2k - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    What kind of lag are you talking about? The A5 SoC is one of the most powerful out there and it's already been noted in several reviews how the older A4 SoC plus iOS 4 and 5 outperformed Gingerbread. You're saying the lag on ICS is somehow better than an A5 plus iOS 5 by saying the A5 + iOS 5 is as laggy as a CPU bound unaccelerated Android 2.3? Reply
  • medi01 - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Why, do you think, anand is using 720p "off-screen" in benchmarks, why not try it directly on screen?

    Oh, and why "black levels" aren't present on screen comparison? And why iphones dissapear from charts where they are wtfpwned by other phones?

    Sigh. Disgusting.
  • michael2k - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    All the phones and tablets would go up in number if they used native resolution, but then you can't actually compare the HW because each would be constrained by different resolutions. By using 720p offscreen you get to judge all the HW on the same scale.

    Also, Anand has definitely reported black levels:

    I don't know of any places where the iPhone disappear so much as the iPhone doesn't run the app. You'll notice that the rankings appear congruent; 4S followed by S2 with the Nexus and 4 on the bottom. Nothing changes, except that certain apps aren't available for the iPhone. Rightware Basemark is an Android app, silly.
  • medi01 - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - link

    And "actual HW number" tells you what? That GPU X is faster than GPU Y? Instead of saying "phone X would render faster than phone Y"? How is first more appropriate mesurement than the latter?

    @Also, Anand has definitely reported black levels:@
    Are you kidding me? Where is vs amoled comparison in your link? How is it related to the article in discussion?

    Not only do they skip "black levels", they somehow manage to make a picture of AMOLED screen where BLACK looks GREY. Wow, great job misleading readers.
  • michael2k - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - link

    Yes, GPU X is faster than GPU Y is a perfectly valid comparison. You would have to ask Anand why he thought comparing GPUs was a valid benchmark, but given the long track record of how responsive the iPhone has been compared to Android, I don't see how that anything else is relevant. The fact that offscreen performance favors the iPhone 4S doesn't change that it doesn't favor the iPhone 4!

    Also, why would he compare to amoled when in fact there are no amoled tablets to compare to?

    You're a baseless and pointless critic.
  • doobydoo - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    There is no lag at all on the iPad 2 or the iPhone 4S, what are you talking about?

    I think you're more pissed off that the Nexus came with an average camera and a 2-year-old GPU.
  • Lucian Armasu - Monday, January 30, 2012 - link

    Well, iPhone 4 came with a 2 year old GPU, too in 2010, and much lower FPS than the competition, if you remember those GPU charts, where the iPhone 4 was the last at the bottom. Not too many people seemed to care about it. Reply

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