By this time, most HTC Rezound owners in the U.S. should have received their OTA (over the air) Ice Cream Sandwich update (aka. Android 4.0). Congratulations to us all, it is a very welcome update even if many people are upset that it was released months later than promised. To be honest though, I didn’t really have any complaints with the last OS version (Android 2.3 Gingerbread). It was actually very usable and stable , and I don’t think there was anything I felt significantly deprived of. Having said that, and after using Ice Cream Sandwich for a week now, I couldn’t be happier to have the update. There is a lot to love about the new OS, and a couple gripes worth mentioning. Here are some of my first impressions and things I think are worth checking out.
(*note: most of these were mentioned when ICS was released last year, but I had since forgotten about them and was pleasantly surprised to test them out…in addition since last year, apps have been released that were only available for ICS, or they’ve been updated to work much better in ICS so they are also included)
1. much improved voice dictation: no this is not referring to using the phone like SIRI. sure you still have google voice commands to do SIRI like tasks for some things, but i’m just referring to using voice dictation for inputting text into texts, emails, etc. I was already impressed with the voice dictation in gingerbread, but this one blows me away. it translates voice to text in near real time and allows you to touch words that it may have gotten wrong and replace them with a list of suggested words. the amazing thing to me is how fast and accurate it is, and how you can pause while you are talking to it. (in the past, you had to say one long continuous sentence.) oh, the other amazing thing is that it works for many different languages. (ex. speak chinese to it, and it will type the chinese characters for you). this is a definite must try feature.
2. go launcher: this is still my favorite launcher to replace HTC Sense, and now it’s better than ever. it’s smoother, looks better, and has UI improvements that you will definitely appreciate)
3. the new SwiftKey 3: still my favorite keyboard to replace the stock keyboard, and this is also better than ever. the huge bonus here in ICS is that you can now use google’s voice dictation directly from SwiftKey.
4. fast/easy keyboard switching: anytime you are inputting text, you will see a little keyboard icon in the notification shade. just pull down the notification shade, and touch it to change keyboards. granted, most people don’t switch keyboards on a regular basis, but for people who are learning a 2nd language, it is super useful to have this feature.
5. multitasking switching/closing of programs: hold down the “home” button and it brings up a vertical list of recently used apps that you can select from…or if you want to close them, just swipe to the left or right.
6. Chrome web browser: so glad to say goodbye to the stock Android web browser…w/ Chrome everything is just smoother and renders better than before… you can also sign in to your google account on either your phone or computer and have everything sync’d
7. hide apps: if your phone came with a lot of software installed from the carrier, you still can’t delete those apps, but you can now at least “hide” them so that you don’t have to see them. yes you can of course root to uninstall these apps completely, but it’s nice to have this ability on a non-rooted stock phone.
8. face unlock: i still use a swipe pattern to unlock my phone, but plenty of people are loving using this feature…at first u might be annoyed if it doesn’t recognize your face very well (for example under different lighting conditions, if you’re wearing glasses or not, or if your hair is a bit different), but the nice thing is the “improve facial recognition” feature, where you can train it to recognize you better. i tested it out and it has no problems recognizing me now even with glasses on or off.
9. improved notification shade: you’ll now see more information bundled with each notification…now you can also swipe those notifications to the right/left to dismiss them.
10. slideshow function in gallery app: view a slideshow of your pictures with music and transitions
11. improved gchat app
12. google maps: download maps for offline use
13. panorama camera function: stitch multiple photos together to create a wide panorama image. i dont know why i put this at the end of the list, because this is one of my favorite features…to try this: open camera > scenes > panorama
1. maps (the latest update of maps(version 6.10) is buggy on the rezound and causes the phone to reboot…don’t download the latest update. if you did already, uninstall the update by going from the homescreen > menu > settings > apps > google maps > uninstall updates. then just go to this link and download the previous version (version 6.9) and things should be working fine until the bugs are worked out for the newer version).
2. gmail seems a bit slower and looks more cluttered (still no pinch to zoom in emails)
3. vlc: this was one ICS-only app i was really looking forward to because it’s my favorite desktop app for playing videos (it’s still in beta for the time being though, so i shouldn’t complain about this until it’s an official app)
*if you haven’t got the latest update yet, there’s a way to do it manually, but it will wipe all your phone’s data so make sure to back up all your data first if you go this route. i followed the instructions here…