Maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for BlackBerry after all.
Read the full post at AllThingsD
Image credit: AllThingsD
Maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for BlackBerry after all.
Read the full post at AllThingsD
Image credit: AllThingsD
If there’s one thing 16-bit games excelled at is to do more with less. Their CPUs didn’t even hit 10 MHz and “large” games took an entire 4 megabyte cartridge. They couldn’t handle polygons without extra chips, couldn’t stream music and did not include any sort of networked play. Still, try to find anyone who doesn’t adore 16-bit games. You can’t. A huge percentage of gamers grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s when 16-bit consoles were all the rage.
Can 16-bit consoles like the Sega Genesis teach mobile developers how to make better games? What can we learn from these high-powered behemoths of the past, when “High Definition Graphics” meant 256x224 pixels of resolution and three-button gamepads ruled the Earth?
The Mega Drive, Genesis’ Japanese doppelganger
Sega’s greatest console
I’m an unabashed Sega fanboy. We have no less than THREE Sega Genesis consoles at home, one JVC X’Eye and two Model 1s. One of the Model 1s is configured as the so-called “Tower of Doom,” sitting on top of a functioning Model 1 Sega CD and enhanced with a then-powerful 32X.
The Master System was a good console; I played a ton of Master System games. I was living in Brazil then, and unfortunately mine died in a fire — I would have brought it with me to the U.S. otherwise. The Master System had superior graphics and CPU hardware than the NES but sound was lacking when compared to Nintendo’s grey box (at least the U.S./European version, which didn’t have FM sound). Games were mostly fun, but there was a distinct lack of 3rd party titles due to Nintendo’s ironclad contracts. Most titles were superficial: arcade ports (R-Type, OutRun), sports (Great Soccer), platformers (Castle of Illusion) and action games (Rambo First Blood Part II).
We all know the NES trounced the Master System in the U.S. That’s why Sega went all-out with the Genesis. They started with arcade components, lost 1 CPU (the System 16 board sported dual Motorola 68000) and included a top-notch Yamaha sound chip for high-quality stereo sound. Sega didn’t skimp on design either, coming up with a black, menacing shape that is unique to this day. The Genesis meant business.
The Genesis’s legacy is a library with 915 titles. Many of them are classics like Streets of Rage, Sonic The Hedgehog, Strider, Mortal Kombat, Virtua Racing, Phantasy Star II to IV, and much more. Unlike the Master System, Genesis games managed to be very deep, reaching near-PC depth for the time. For example, F-22 Interceptor was an elaborate, true-to-life simulator and games like Haunting Starring Polterguy let players “haunt” pesky humans through detailed isometric graphics. The Genesis didn’t have the greatest sound (when compared to the SNES) or color (limited to 64 on-screen at the same time) but it was directly responsible for creating millions of Sega fans, most now in their early 30s. Almost 42 million consoles were sold worldwide; Genesis’ legacy lives on thanks to never-ending porting to Steam, XBox Live Arcade, PSN, Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
Mobile vs. 16-bit
Mobile is similar to 16-bit in more ways than one. Like 16-bit titles running on ancient hardware, mobile games have to make the best of 4 to 5-inch screens, 2-channel sound and limited hardware specs. 3D graphics may now be a reality thanks to powerful mobile GPUs like Nvidia’s Tegra 3 and Apple’s A6 CPU/GPU combo, but most developers can’t spend $3 million on a single title. As a result, most mobile games are still 2D — or 2.5D — which brings them closer to 16-bit. The same for sound. While the latest smartphones could offer surround sound, no one carries a 5.1 setup with them everywhere they go.
How about the interface? 16-bit consoles like the Super Nintendo (SNES) and the Sega Genesis relied on gamepads with a small number of buttons. Smartphones have zero physical buttons, but can counter with an unlimited number of virtual buttons — and accelerometers. Hardcore gamers will always prefer physical buttons but savvy developers know how to deliver precise controls via gestures and virtual buttons.
Modern mobile games on Android and iOS have been with us for roughly three and a half years. A console generation lasts an average of five years. If mobile was a console platform, the current generation of games would be just over the “learning curve” that often results in terrible launch titles. By now, mobile games should be fairly mature, just like the best SNES and Genesis games in 1993.
Now that we established that mobile and 16-bit share a few personality traits, let’s look at ways 16-bit game design can make mobile games better.
Known for its terrible Engrish, Zero Wing had notwithstanding a very nice, polished intro. Similar to today’s motion comics, intros in the late 1980s and early 1990s spelled out the game’s premise with showy graphics and music. They made booting any brand-new game a special occasion.
Another great example of a quality intro is Streets of Rage, with its moody dance music, scrolling titles and blinking city lights.
Thanks to MP3 files and loose limits on game size, everyone can have CD-quality music in their game. Unfortunately, the result was far from better music. Music is actually worse now. How could this have happened?
In the past, composing game music was similar to programming. Sure, you could use an audio suite but in the end music was still generated on-the-go by a sound chip, not recorded and then played back by the console’s sound card like today. You needed to know each console’s chipset intimately. The Genesis’ Yamaha YM2612 could be challenging but was able to deliver standout scores like Ecco The Dolphin, Bio-Hazard Battle and Lightning Force. This forced developers to spend more time on the music, which lead to the memorable, epic music we all love to this day. Nowadays, it’s easy to buy “canned” music and simply drop it in the game. Quality suffers as a result, which is why most cannot remember a single song or score from mobile games. I can only think of the Angry Birds theme myself!
Mobile games tend to be way too easy. Some are proudly “casual.” Genesis games on the other hand could be punishingly difficult. Take E-Swat for example. You play this armored, Robocop-like cop but you don’t get to wear the damn suit until level three. So if you never make it past level two, you’re screwed. Worse yet, once you finally get to level three, the game becomes three times harder. Now, is that a bad thing? NO! As Dark Souls so bravely demonstrated, a tough game can be exhilarating. Console games didn’t offer instant saves — only RPGs could afford it — so a difficult game had to be completed in one sitting. Raising the average difficulty level for mobile games would be easy due to instant saving and/or checkpoint systems.
How many of you would welcome more challenging mobile games? I know I would.
If you could tell someone from 1994 that you can “buy” a game for free in 2012, something that could easily cost $50 back in the day, they would have a fit. “No way, games are expensive!” would be their likely answer. Except that we now live in that world. The world of freemium, “paymium” and everything in between. We download mobile games for free like it’s the new normal.
Not to beat a dead horse, but we need to start paying for our games again. Developers should be able to sell a quality, full-featured mobile game for $12 at the very least. Genres that naturally lead to in-app purchases can remain free — that’s not a problem. It’s action games, RPGs and sports/racing games that worry me. 16-bit games made their developers money, which in turn led to 32 and 64-bit games. In two years, 2/3 mobile developers might go out of business because, frankly, it’s expensive to keep a studio going. We can keep not paying for our games, but developers might also stop making them.
Another casualty of casual games (no pun intended): there’s no reason to play them again. Most of them never end in the first place. 16-bit games on the other hand are extremely replayable. You want to experience some of those levels again, top the high score board, impress your friends. The basic gameplay loop on a game like Comix Zone is enough to keep me coming back 17 years after its launch.
Mobile games are short-lived, so many developers shortchange gamers with simple, let-me-show-you-how-to-have-fun levels. Developers fear frustrating gamers, fear that they won’t spend any money in in-app purchases due to a possibly challenging game. That’s incredibly sad, because it means most of us will never replay a mobile game. Those memories will remain with old consoles, trapped in the past.
How about you? Do you think 16-bit games can teach mobile games a few valuable lessons? Let’s hear it in the comments.
There’s a YouTube user out there with an uncanny talent for remixes. Better still, he uses instruments sampled from the Sega Genesis to remix pop classics and game music brilliantly. At almost 2,500 videos, TheLegendofRenegade is a force to be reckoned with.
Let’s start with some Genesis (the band, not the console).
This mix took my breath away. But Mr. Renegade can do even better.
Behold Michael Jackson’s “I’ll Be There”:
The pièce de résistance: F-Zero’s “Mute City”:
I invite you to go over his playlists to see what I mean. His remixes are excellent 9/10 times and always interesting. You won’t regret it — especially if you’re a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive fan like me.
I wasn’t expecting to buy a new tablet today. We already have an iPad 2 at home and both my wife and I have smartphones.
Still, when as Hugo Barra officially announced the $199 price earlier today, we couldn’t resist :)
photo courtesy of Engadget
Why buy a 2nd tablet?
We own an iPad. We’re fairly happy with it — it has great battery life and more-than-adequate performance. My main issue with the iPad 2 is the low-res screen and the now “outdated” iOS look. The screen is a big deal because I love to read on the Kindle App and, frankly, text looks pixelated on the iPad 2. In regard to the interface, I’m a huge fan of Android 4.0 so I’d rather stick to Android’s more sophisticated home screen, app drawer and widgets. Not to mention that I can now transfer stuff between the Galaxy Nexus and the Nexus 7 via Android Beam :)
The Nexus 7
This is a powerhouse, no doubt about it. Quad-core CPU, 12-core GPU and 9 hours of battery life streaming/playing video. Compact 7-inch form factor. HD, IPS screen.
It’s not a “Hacker Special” like some in the Android community expected but it addresses everything I wanted from a tablet for an exceedingly affordable price.
Possible cons: no rear camera, no SD card support and missing HDMI output
Some users are having a hard time dealing with the lack of an SD card port. I have a Galaxy Nexus so I’m quite used to it by now. Not a big deal. I also don’t care about a rear camera or HDMI output. They had to shave something off to make that $199 price :)
I should receive the tablet in 3 weeks or so. I’ll update this post with my impressions once that happens. Make sure to leave a comment if you’re disappointed with the Nexus 7 announcement — or if you already pre-ordered, just like me :)
The Nokia Lumia 900, Microsoft and the Finnish company’s last stand on the mobile wars, has been on sale for roughly a week. Apart from AT&T’s boo-boo, launching on Easter Sunday, and a crippling connectivity bug, the launch seems to be moderately successful, with the Lumia 900 currently topping the charts at Amazon.com and selling out in AT&T’s online store.
Windows Phone forums at Reddit, XDA Developers and Windows Phone Central are filled with happy owners still in their honeymoon period, grizzled Windows Phone veterans and recent converts thanks to Nokia’s very generous $100 credit in their AT&T accounts. They see that $100 overture as a clear signal that Nokia is not Apple (“you’re holding it wrong”) or Google (“huh? You mean you need actual customer support?”). To top it all, the promised emergency patch arrived 3 days ahead of schedule, which is unheard of in smartphone circles.
Nokia was the Apple of its time, with thought leadership in smartphones (they practically invented them), high-speed mobile connectivity, build quality and profitability. They’ve been suffering a very public fall after iOS, then Android, started eating away at the company’s key high-end and low-end markets. Last week, Nokia’s shares were at their lowest since 1997.
The Nokia Communicator 900, regarded as one of the very first smartphones
Still, Nokia was a behemoth. They were professional, reliable, resourceful. That’s what we all witnessed in the follow-up to the Lumia 900 launch, when a connectivity bug left new owners without a data signal.
Nokia addressed the connectivity problem head on, sparing no expense to make Lumia 900 owners happy. In a very public blog post, they admitted something was wrong, apologized, and took steps to correct it. That’s a masterful response to a potentially catastrophic crisis of confidence in their newest and most important product release in years.
[not to mention a PR and marketing campaign that proudly proclaimed that “the smartphone beta test was over”]
The Lumia 900 might not be a huge hit. Windows Phone may be beyond saving at this point. Nokia did, however, rescue their brand in the process. They showed the technology world why they’re not Apple or Google. No matter what happens in the next two years, Nokia will be better for it.
Now if only they made a high-end Android smartphone…
RIM had another horrific quarter and Jim Balsillie is out.
Read the whole article at http://allthingsd.com/20120329/rim-blows-it-again/
This just in… The new iPad (aka iPad 3) has its share of hardware issues. Gadgets are known to ship with all sorts of “bugs” — hardware and otherwise — but the new iPad is quickly becoming notorious for two major issues:
Some (don’t) like it hot
An infrared shot points to the CPU/GPU as the culprit
The first widely reported problem was what some call “heatgate”: the fact that the new iPad seems to operate at higher average temperatures than the iPad 2.
Apple Support forums: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3810951?tstart=0
While no one has reported burns, overheating gadgets can quickly become uncomfortable to hold. It’s annoying on a notebook and/or netbook, but more of an issue with tablets since users tend to hold them with bare hands. For example: Infinity Blade 2, the Retina-ready blockbuster by ChAIR Entertainment, can take temperatures up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit according to Consumer Reports.
No one knows for sure WHY the new iPad runs hotter than the previous models, but most point to the new A5X CPU/GPU combo. Repair Labs, for example, reports that the A5 chip in the iPad 2 is ceramic (perfect for conducting heat) but that the A5X is metallic, an inferior material. DisplayMate, on the other hand, blames the new iPad’s screen for the heat issues.
(router) Can you hear me now? (new iPad) Nope!
The iPhone 4 had the notorious Antennagate. The new iPad seems to have an issue with Wi-Fi reception instead:
PC Magazine: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2401924,00.asp
Apple Support forums: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3812929?tstart=0
Wi-Fi reception is a big deal if you use your gadget at home, Starbucks and/or hotels. I often use my phone in the bedroom — away from the router which sits on top of our sub woofer in the living room. Lackluster WiFi reception would be a massive problem because it would prevent me from using my phone in bed.
(Verizon data doesn’t reach my Santa Monica apartment. I often read clients’ email messages in bed, in the wee hours of the morning, to make sure I’m on top of things)
No one knows what causes the Wi-Fi problem, but the press is starting to give this new “bug” more and more coverage. If this is in fact a real engineering flaw, it could become a nightmare for Apple.
Jobs’ absence to blame?
I got lambasted on Reddit last week for complaining about Apple’s use of the (invented) word “resolutionary” — a cheesy pun, really — and suggesting that Steve Jobs would have never allowed it. Redditors (correctly) pointed to me that Apple has used such puns before.
This, however, is much more serious. Did Apple rush the new iPad? Would another 6 months result in less heat and better Wi-Fi reception? I feel like Jobs would have NEVER allowed his engineers to ship the new iPad in the current state. Maybe he would have made sure it used a ceramic CPU/GPU combo. Maybe he would send the whole thing to the drawing board if the Wi-Fi antenna wasn’t up to snuff — i.e. achieving the same or better Wi-Fi reception than the iPad 2.
The original iPad, one of Steve Jobs’ most daring — and polished — creations
I can’t point fingers since I have absolutely no idea what goes on inside Apple. Maybe these are non-issues (like Antennagate). Maybe Apple did rush the new iPad to deal a death blow to Android tablets. Who knows? What we do know is that Apple has its hands full of new iPad hardware bugs, despite record-breaking sales over the weekend.
Apple stumbled on this one and I can’t help but think that Steve Jobs would have caught both issues and fixed them without any of us knowing about it.
new_ipad_heat.jpg / Slashgear
video / YouTube user GRE9DEL
iPad 1 / ZDNET
All it takes is creativity to radically transform shared environments. Follow this link to read the whole piece.
Jovan Johson is an attorney with L.A. firm Johnson & Moo. Like Novy PR, Jovan specializes on helping indie and mobile developers grow their companies from one-man start-ups to successful studios with a global audience.
Stray Pixels asked Jovan a few questions about attorneys, contracts, working with foreign publishers and more. Let us know what you think in the comments!
1. When should indie studios seek out a lawyer?
Indies should probably seek legal counsel once they begin working with others, including artists, programmers, marketers, etc. This will help ensure the terms of their agreement are written clearly and structured properly.
For example, last year my partner and I met with a potential client who produced a song (which, of course, is a form of intellectual property) that turned out to be quite successful. Gross revenue was close to $460,000, costs and expenses were approximately $25,000. Under his arrangement with the recording artist the producer’s share should have been $160,000, give or take.
The producer’s first problem was that he drafted the contract he signed with the artist. The document he came up with was quite detailed but didn’t make any sense. I’m not saying that as an attorney. I’m saying that as someone who reads and writes English. Next, he involved himself with investor-partners who were attorneys. The producer didn’t have an attorney review this second deal either. At the end of the day, he’s probably going to wind up with nothing to show for his efforts. In fact, he may be in debt before the ordeal is over. If he would have retained counsel from the beginning, he would probably have $160,000 in his bank account right now.
Some people think they cannot afford a lawyer. If you’re doing business and want to succeed, you can’t afford not having a lawyer.
2. How are mobile deals structured nowadays? What is the publisher role, for example?
The publisher’s role is to promote the game and sell units. They should provide input on polishing the game and a base level of PR and marketing. For that they receive a percentage of revenue, which may seem high to some developers. However, it’s better to have part of a financially successful game than 100% of one that sells 200 copies.
Some publishers have relationships that help with key placements within the Android Market and App Store, but that will not show up as a contract term.
3. What should developers watch for before signing a contract?
It’s always important that both parties have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them. Warm and fuzzy feelings are nice but the content of the written contract is what matters.
Some common issues that developers need to understand before signing a deal are:
4. Can working with foreign capital or a foreign publisher affect the way a contract is drafted?
Absolutely. If you plan on dealing with a foreign publisher you may have an issue in terms of choice of law. If the publisher insists on their local law, it’s a good idea for the developer to hire an attorney who is familiar with those laws.
Any deal regarding capital gets complicated quickly because it may be a securities transaction. Most attorneys are NOT capable of reviewing these contracts. Get help immediately if you’re thinking about a deal with capital, especially if it’s foreign capital.
5. Tell us about yourself. Were you always a gamer? When did you decide to focus on indies?
I’ve actually been a gamer on-and-off. Of course, I can remember spending many hours playing Nintendo when I was in elementary school. Same thing throughout high school, college, and after law school. Let’s just say if I get into something, I’m really into that thing. It’s best that I stick to casual games.
One of my brightest friends released a couple of iOS games. He worked with a small team on a handshake deal. This made me wonder about others making games without business and legal assistance. I’ve had a great time working with all of my indie clients. That makes me feel like I’m on to something.
6. Where do you see the game industry in the next 10 years?
I think gaming may go the way of movie studios. That is, large game companies who are financially sound will focus on blockbusters. That leaves a big opening for the indies to produce most everything else.
I also think mobile games will continue eating away at the market share console games have enjoyed for so many years. Game engines like Unity allow for increasingly advanced mobile games. It’s astounding, really. Google and Apple release mobile operating systems at a break-neck pace and developers take advantage of that.
Another advantage mobile developers have is that very few people want to buy a new Sony / Microsoft / Nintendo console year-after-year, but statistics seem to indicate that many people will opt to buy a new iPhone annually.
7. Is there anything else you’d like to say to Novy PR’s clients and readers?
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help. We answer emails and return phone calls. Kamal Moo, my partner, focuses on music and film law and has been around the block. We’re currently working with a fan-funded project, Angry Video Game Nerd The Movie. If you have a creative project in the works, there’s a good chance my firm can provide the attention and advice you need.
I have quite the track record with Android.
Bought a HTC G1 aka HTC Dream in November 2008, a T-Mobile Vibrant (Galaxy S) at launch in 2010 and now a Galaxy Nexus, also at launch. I’ve been one of the G1’s numerous beta testers, (bravely) relying on a half-baked OS as a daily driver. I also witnessed Samsung’s many failings, mostly leaving the Vibrant stuck with Android 2.2 and shipping a very buggy OS, unstable and prone to bizarre behavior.
The G1. This was the definition of cool if you were a geek in late 2008
Still, I love Android. From the very beginning, Android offered me the same qualities of Windows Mobile (customization, flexibility, freedom) with none of its limitations (resistive interface, terrible browser, lack of apps). The Vibrant, warts and all, made me a believer. While deeply flawed, the performance was well-ahead of my first Android phone (the G1), a thoroughly modern “superphone” capable of running circles around the the barely adequate hardware found in Google’s first Android phone. And that screen… Super AMOLED rocked my world.
Which brings us to the Galaxy Nexus, Google latest halo device and the first Android 4.0 device in the world.
One of the wallpapers shipping with the Galaxy Nexus, a perfect showing of Super AMOLED power
The Galaxy Nexus is a beautiful phone. The design is clean, organic and devoid of any logos/trademarks above and below the (massive) screen. Monolithic-looking when off (think 2001: A Space Odyssey), the Galaxy Nexus is a black slab of high-grade plastic built around a rigid metal frame, giving it the feel of a premium device.
My phone stays inside a hard case, so I don’t really deal with the back cover. I hear it’s “plasticky,” like most Samsung phones, obviously far behind the chic glass in the iPhone 4S. The back cover is a non-issue for me.
Being a native Android 4.0 device, the Galaxy Nexus doesn’t have any physical buttons. Of course, it does have a power button and volume slider but no Back, Menu, Home or Search buttons like previous Android phones. The power button is more solid than the one on the Galaxy S. Same for the volume slider. In general, the phone feels great in the hand and it’s also very light.
Those looking for Galaxy S III-grade specs on the Galaxy Nexus will be disappointed. Nexus devices were never about specs alone; the Nexus One was the fastest Android phone in the planet for a whole month. Likewise, the Galaxy S II has a much faster GPU than the Galaxy Nexus, the Mali-400. In the Galaxy Nexus, the PowerVR SGX540 GPU found in the Galaxy S makes an appearance once again, albeit running at 384 MHz this time. The CPU on the other hand is among the fastest circa Q4 2011, an OMAP 4460 with two cores running at 1.2 GHz.
Then, the screen. Allegedly the first true HD display on a smartphone, the 720p Super AMOLED panel in the Galaxy Nexus is quite a sight. Bright, colorful and over-sized, the 4.65-inch display puts most smartphones to shame. The iPhone 4S looks like a toy next to a Galaxy Nexus at full brightness. However, this is a PenTile display we’re talking about. At low brightness grays get muddy, with a textured look, and vertical lines stretching from the top of the screen to the very bottom are easily observed. Some consider it a huge issue, going as far as returning the phone but it doesn’t bother me. I love it so far, with the added sharpness of 720 lines of resolution making reading ebooks and browsing the web easy on the eyes.
My home screen. I like how folders keep everything organized. Top notch icon design as well
But is it fast? I’m used to the typical Android slowness, where the OS fails to respond to touch, freezes or goes to sleep — never to return. Both the G1 and the Vibrant suffered from those ailments. Well well well… Consider it fixed. This phone is not fast… It’s insanely, back-pressed-against-the-seat fast. Smooth as butter, eerily similar to iOS devices like the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S and oh-so-different from all Android devices before it. It has never kept me waiting and 1.5 weeks after buying it, I have never had to restart it. No SD card? No problem. If that’s the price for out-of-this-world performance, I’m all for it.
The camera on the Galaxy Nexus is a 5.1 megapixel unit. Sadly, it is not the second coming of Christ — the one on the Galaxy S II, an 8 megapixel unit, is still the king among Android smartphones. The camera is very fast, though: no startup lag, no lag between shots. On top of that, the built-in editing tools are easy to use and effective. Finally, uploading pictures to the cloud with Instant Upload and Google+ is a piece of cake. The camera could be better, yes, but I deem it good enough.
Starbucks in December. The camera is no slouch, but not “awesome” either
Since this is the LTE version, it would be a major omission not to talk about Verizon’s network and battery life. If you never tried an LTE phone, prepare to be amazed. It’s 2 to 3 times faster than my home connection, a 10 MB cable modem. Some have clocked it past 40 Mbps down and almost 20 Mbps up. It redefines “mobile connectivity” — sites load in an instant and streaming high-quality YouTube videos is never an issue. At the same time, however, the LTE modem requires a fair amount of CPU usage, resulting in reduced battery life when compared with the GSM version. I get about 6 hours of “screen time” (everything on, listening to music and browsing the web) and around 20 hours or so of standby. I’m a power user and play with the phone a lot, so others might see better performance from the battery. Still, it’s not like 4G is required 24/7. If I know I’ll be out for a whole day — or the whole night — I can simply turn 4G off and fall back to Verizon’s 3G network. It’s no speed demon, but more than enough for email/browsing and maybe even Google Music streaming.
ANDROID 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich
The latest version of Android is old news at this point, with literally hundreds of blog posts dissecting the OS back in November (and a very detailed write-up on Ars Technica). I’ll approach Android 4.0 from the point of view of someone stuck in Android 2.2 instead, focusing on the main differences — and improvements — in Ice Cream Sandwich.
The Recent Apps button makes it easy to switch between applications with live snapshots
Android 2.2 was a milestone release for Android, unlike 2.1. FroYo featured Wi-Fi tethering for the first time, as well as Dalvik JIT compiling and proper Exchange support. It was much faster than 2.1. I know from experience because the Vibrant shipped with 2.1; the performance boost attributed to 2.2 was certainly there. In short, Android 2.2 was a great release, maybe the greatest before Android 4.0.
If my Vibrant had “stock” Android, maybe it would end there. But Samsung messed with it, added TouchWiz and, in short, broke a lot of stuff. As a result my phone was always a mess. Freezes were common, SD cards (two, one acting as internal storage) had to be “read” every time I deleted/added a file — and at every boot — or the phone would suddenly slow to a crawl for no reason. Occasionally — and often — it would crash when running Google Maps. I once had to do a battery pull while stuck in traffic (!)
Android 4.0, up to now, is a revelation. Streamlined, fast and stable, it’s very Apple-like without the annoying Apple limitations. It just works. No crashes, not a single one (I know I’m repeating myself, but it’s a big deal). Smooth scrolling, perfect multitasking — a big improvement over all previous Android versions — and Google apps redesigned to make things easier while giving the user more control. I really can’t put into words how much better Android 4.0 is.
Android 3.0 introduced true dual-core compatibility at the OS level. Android 4.0 made it perfect with hardware acceleration for the interface. Finally, Android is as responsive as iOS. I haven’t had enough “street time” with the phone (using it in public) but I’m already planning on showing it off to friends and family, particularly those carrying with fast-but-tiny iPhone 4S’s. No wonder Joshua Topolsky, editor-in-chief at The Verge, bought one.
The icing on the cake is the newly-added Data Usage feature plus goodies like NFC (near field communication) and Face Unlock. Android 4.0 is an embarrassment of riches for Android users.
This is the best Android phone ever made — period. As hard as I try, I can’t find anything wrong with it. Old Android annoyances have been fixed, performance is mind-boggling and the phone looks and feels great in the hand. It’s a tour de force, the new standard in smartphones and what they can achieve in software, hardware and design.
If you have an upgrade approaching, this is your next phone. If you have an iPhone 4, this is your chance to switch to Android without making compromises. The iPhone 4S might have the performance edge for now, but Android 4.0 is a game-changer on its own right, before even looking at the top-notch hardware assembled by Samsung.
The Galaxy Nexus is a must-buy and it gets a 9/10.