Motorola announced on Wednesday that its Xoom tablets are going to finally receive the Ice Cream Sandwich update that so many have been waiting for. For those of you who do not know, Ice Cream Sandwich is the latest version of Android (currently Android 4.0.3). The update will be applied over the air, assuming you are connected to a Wi-Fi network, immediately. The update will give Xoom tablet users more functionality, including voice capabilities and faster browser rendering. This update will also make the Xoom one of the first tablets to adopt the Ice Cream Sandwich update.
We've gotta hand it to ASUS for being quick about updating the Transformer Prime to the latest release of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The company has said on its Facebook page that it will begin the Android 4.0 rollout to Transformer Prime owners on January 12, just over a week from now. When compared to how some of the other companies out there are being all slow about the Ice Cream Sandwich update on their devices, ASUS is looking like one of the few Android device makers that cares enough about its userbase to put Android 4.0 on the fast track.
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We've come to the end of another year, and as we wave goodbye to 2011, we figured it was only fitting that we share the most popular stories published on Gear Live this year, as determined by our readers (we've also got the top ten most read stories regardless of publish date, as well as the ten most popular Gear Live videos of 2011!) These are the ten stories that were read the most, and when you consider that fact, it's pretty surprising to see what made the list. Let's kick it off with our most read story of the year:
If you've got a Kindle Fire and have been waiting for the opportunity to to install a full-on version of Android, you may want to look into the newest hack that's just been released that allows you to install Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the Amazon tablet. Yep, you read that right - thanks to an early Ice Cream Sandwich port based on CyanogenMod 9 that was put together by JackpotClavin, you can turn your Kindle Fire into a real Android tablet, with some caveats, as you'd probably expect.
How much does Android 4.0 mean to you? How much do you need to have it right now? Because that's the dilemma with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone ($299-$649). Overall it's not quite as good a phone as the Motorola Droid RAZR ($299). But right now, it's the only phone running Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), and that's the future.
In many ways, this is the ultimate early adopter phone. The phone itself isn't perfect; typically, Nexus phones aren't the best hardware on the market. But the software takes a major leap forward, with everything from a better Gmail experience to a faster browser and the ability to put folders on your home screens. Do you need that right now? Then yes, you need the Nexus. Why else might you want to jump on board the latest flagship Google device? Hit the link and follow us through our full Galaxy Nexus review for the answers.
Google's Android platform is steadily climbing toward 1 million daily activations. There are currently more than 700,000 Android activations every day, Google's Android chief, Andy Rubin, announced Tuesday night.
"For those wondering, we count each device only once (ie, we don't count re-sold devices), and 'activations' means you go into a store, buy a device, put it on the network by subscribing to a wireless service," Rubin said in a followup post on Google+.
The news comes just one month after Google announced at its November music event that there were 550,000 Android activations each day. Back in June, Rubin said that number was at 500,000, up from 350,000 in April.
With numbers like that, it's not surprisingly that Android is one of the most popular smartphone operating systems around the globe. About 44.2 percent of those in the U.S. have Android-based devices, split largely between handsets from HTC (15.8 percent), Samsung (10.4 percent), and Motorola (10.7 percent), according to recent data from Nielsen.
I've been using my Kindle Fire since it came out, and while I'm still waiting for CyanogenMod9 to come out and let me actually put Ice Cream Sandwich on my Kindle Fire, I've been relatively happy with the performance.
The main interface tweak added to the Kindle Fire is the ability to remove items from the carousel on the home page. This is a small but useful way to keep your most commonly used apps organized and, if necessary, make sure other users don't see whatever naughty things you might have been perusing.
That's the only change to the main screen; you still can't organize your apps into categories or customize your menu beyond adding and removing items from favorites and the carousel. I use my Kindle Fire for several different things, and it would be great to organize my apps by categories like Online Content, Books, Network Tools, and Games. The Fire still has Amazon's default seven tabs and single app list organized alphabetically or by date.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the newest and hottest Android smartphone in town, and we've got one in-house to review. We're still putting our finishing touches on our thoughts about the first phone to run Android 4.0 (otherwise known as Ice Cream Sandwich,) but what we do have ready is a Galaxy Nexus unboxing gallery where you can get up close and personal with the device in a series through our series of images. Go ahead and check it out, and we'll have our full review up shortly!
Although Google described the new version as a mix of optimizations and bug fixes, the real significance is that the new OS will be the baseline version that will be rolled out to partners interested in developing phones and tablets around the new OS. It also appears to possibly include Facebook Ticker-like functionality.
"Going forward, we'll be focusing our partners on Android 4.0.3 as the base version of Ice Cream Sandwich," Xavier Ducrohet, the Android SDK Tech Lead, said in announcing the new version. "The new platform will be rolling out to production phones and tablets in the weeks ahead, so we strongly encourage you to test your applications on Android 4.0.3 as soon as possible."
In addition to incremental improvements in graphics, databases, spell-checking, Bluetooth, and other features, the new OS includes a new social stream API.
An Adobe AIR 3.1 update will ship next week.
In late November, Adobe announced that it would no longer develop Flash Player for the mobile Web after its next release. "Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores," the company said at the time.
In a Friday blog post, Adobe reiterated that stance, arguing that apps are the wave of the future.