SAN JOSE, Calif. – Goggle announced the release of Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich, unifying what were separate variants of the OS for smartphones, tablets and digital TVs.
The news came in a Hong Kong press conference where Samsung launched the first smartphone using the software, the Galaxy Nexus. The debut with a Samsung device gives credence to Google's promise to continue to work with all Android partners in the wake of its $12.5 billion bid to buy Motorola Mobility.
Google announced at its annual developer conference a year ago its plans to bring together the separate phone, tablet and TV versions of Android. The new version is the first with built-in support for near-field communications (NFC).
A so-called Android Beam feature uses NFC links to share data between phones. NFC also provides the underpinnings for Google Wallet, an electronic payment service.
Android 4.0 sports a number of enhancements, mainly at the applications and user interface level. They include an improved browser that can synch bookmarks with Google Chrome, support for Google+ social networking, enhanced mail and calendar programs and Face Unlock, a face-recognition feature used for unlocking a handset.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus runs on LTE and HSPA+ networks and sports a 4.65-inch AMOLED display supporting 1280 x 720 pixel resolution, including 720-progreessive video. It uses an unnamed 1.2 GHz dual-core processor with 1 Gbyte RAM and 16 GBytes flash.