Editorial

The annoying things about Ice Cream Sandwich

As many of you may know I have been using Ice Cream Sandwich for a few weeks to write both my Android 4.0 review and the review of the Galaxy Nexus. I really do love ICS and everything Google has put into improving the operating system, and the Galaxy Nexus is a fantastic device as well, but there are just some things about ICS that really annoy me.

So for those people yet to try out Android 4.0, thinking about getting a Galaxy Nexus or wanting to install an ICS custom ROM on their existing device, here are the things I hate about Google’s latest operating system.

Getting high resolution contact photos is a pain. On previous versions of Android the images used for contacts were quite small and it didn’t really matter if they were low resolution; however on the Galaxy Nexus it is ideal to have a 700x700 square image of your contact due to the device’s 720p display resolution.

Those lovely big contact photos were not easy to add

You may have seen the stock images for ICS that feature lovely, crisp images, but as it stands this isn’t the case for several reasons. It’s hard to obtain a 700px image of your contact without having to take a new one using your phone, and no app utility I could fine would sync images of this high resolution from my Facebook account. To make matters worse, Google contact sync doesn’t actually support contact photos that are this large, so if you use ICS on another device it will pull low resolution versions of these images to your device, making you work yet again to re-add large images.

Facebook contact sync is also not available on ICS, meaning that the official app will not pull down nice, large images to use, and neither will third-party alternatives such as FriendCaster. Twitter won’t do it either, and as I mentioned neither will Google contact sync, so currently the only way to automate the addition of contact photos is to hope all your friends have a Google+ account with large images as they sync perfectly.

Now you may think that having low-resolution contact images isn’t such a big deal, and in most respects it isn’t as you will see small contact icons throughout apps such as Contacts, Messaging and Gmail. However, there are heaps of areas that use 700x700 images, such as when someone calls you, when you browse your starred contacts or when you view someone’s full or quick profile. It’s annoying to see such a generally beautiful UI diminished by pixelated contact images, and it’s annoying to fix as well.

The lack of a dedicated menu button is annoying. Literally all previous Android smartphones have had a menu button, and to suddenly remove it in favour of in-app menus takes a considerable amount of getting used to. Unlike Windows Phone where the menu button is always in the same location, with Android 4.0 it can be in the top or bottom Action Bar and not in the same position, making it harder than you might like to find.

The change to dedicated "hardware" buttons have their ups and downs

It’s not exactly easy to switch either, as pretty much all third party apps still use the legacy menu button, even on post-ICS major UI overhauls. I know it will take some time for the majority of apps to incorporate an in-app menu, and I do think in the long run it will be the better approach, but for now it feels strange.

Instant speech-to-text is not perfect. It seems like mobile OS developers are really trying to push voice input as “the next big thing” for smartphones, but in reality it’s not that simple. Speech-to-text may be a useful tool and much improved with Android 4.0, but it is still not correct all the time (and less accurate than Siri from what I have tried). If it’s not accurate 99% of the time, it means you have to constantly go through and correct what the speech-to-text engine hasn’t understood; leaving text input slower than what it would be using a normal keyboard.

Speech-to-text worked well, but it didn't work well all the time

Until speech-to-text is faster than text input and doesn’t need constant correction, I will stick to the faster and more accurate keyboard input.

Face unlock is flawed. It’s really just another gimmick that was added to the OS, which is really more a show-off feature than an actual security measure. Android warns you it’s less secure than the pattern or PIN method, and it can be slower to unlock than either of these methods. It also doesn’t work in the dark because it needs to see your face, which may annoy some.

ICS is not fully compatible with all apps. For example scrolling the list of tweets in Twitter is laggy where it isn’t in Gingerbread. Some games inexplicably will not work where they have worked on Gingerbread on the same/similar hardware. Many developers have not (as yet) supported the Galaxy Nexus when I am confident their apps would work without issue. On the previous version of the Facebook app I couldn’t access the menu (now fixed).

So there are some issues to an operating system that I still regard the best Android update of all time. Is it really enough to push people away from getting an Ice Cream Sandwich-powered device? Not really, as you’ll see that most of these annoyances are quite minor, but it does give you a clearer idea of what is wrong with ICS.

Thanks again to MobiCity for providing me with a Galaxy Nexus to test out Android 4.0; all my experiences here were based from using the device they provided.

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63 Comments

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Text to speach. I don't know that you can compare this one exactly to Siri. Siri processes all speach in the cloud where this sounds like it's being processed on the phone in real time.
But intresting article. Thanks.

Duckie37 said,
Text to speach. I don't know that you can compare this one exactly to Siri. Siri processes all speach in the cloud where this sounds like it's being processed on the phone in real time.
But intresting article. Thanks.

Actually, I believe Google sends theirs to cloud as well. Don't quote me on that though.

woah woah woah did anybody else notice the three "..." next to the three android navigation buttons? remind anybody of the "..." on window's phone? yeahh...

ICS app compatibility is coming...cannot expect all APPS to be compatible right away when ICS is not even on many devices. Dumb to expect otherwise.

No dedicated menu button...whatever. Lean to accept change and move on. Or root your phone and apply a diff ROM when available.

Text to speech...I have not seen where this is perfect is any device. Again, a non issue and dumb comment.

Facebook sync...prob just an app update is needed. Facebook has never been good about releasing quick updates. Move on. I for one never use this feature.

High res contact photos will be resolved in time. Again, ICS has not even be out for very long. Give things time.

I love how people complaign about NEW things the rest of do NOT have access to , and expect us to be sympathetic..

Yeah so bill gates pays 500 million dollars a year in taxes.. AND? that means he makes BILLIONS of dollars a year, I suppose it's "annoying" that he has to pay so much, but I would LOVE to have his money and complain about how much tax "burden" he has.

You have a NEXUS to test with, and you complain that there is NO "menu" button? Give me a damn break, how about give ME the phone let ME test it, I bet I can figure out what YOUR apparent lack of insight or observation missed.. I am SURE it's there someplace or a option to "enable" it, you are just stupid. Maybe YOU need to quit testing phones, since you have NO idea what you are doing or talking about.. or quit bitching about something the rest of can't even IDENTIFY with idiot.

rijp said,
I love how people complaign about NEW things the rest of do NOT have access to , and expect us to be sympathetic..

Yeah so bill gates pays 500 million dollars a year in taxes.. AND? that means he makes BILLIONS of dollars a year, I suppose it's "annoying" that he has to pay so much, but I would LOVE to have his money and complain about how much tax "burden" he has.

You have a NEXUS to test with, and you complain that there is NO "menu" button? Give me a damn break, how about give ME the phone let ME test it, I bet I can figure out what YOUR apparent lack of insight or observation missed.. I am SURE it's there someplace or a option to "enable" it, you are just stupid. Maybe YOU need to quit testing phones, since you have NO idea what you are doing or talking about.. or quit bitching about something the rest of can't even IDENTIFY with idiot.

Pretty sure there's no option to enable a hardware redesign of a phone You be trollin.

See, this is why Neowin should stick to being Forums and not a news site. This article is terrible. You listed quite a number of things that are obviously going to be fixed in the coming weeks as a part of a whole new OS. I feel your pain for contact pics, and contact sync not supporting large enough images. I suspect that this will be fixed very shortly, and I also suspect that the next Facebook update will allow you to sync high resolution photos in ICS.

ICS is not compatible with all apps. No ****, same thing happens when every OS is updated. All respectable app developers will push an update very soon to fix any issues. Every update to every phone ends up breaking a few apps, and if you want to do any significant updates, it's an unfortunate side effect. You aren't forcing GPU acceleration are you? That's known to break several apps that aren't designed for it yet.

Face unlock isn't flawed, it's a gimmick like you said. It does exactly what it's supposed to do and can be expected to do. Of course it doesn't work in the dark when all it sees is black. Using someone's face to unlock is automatically going to be a somewhat weak form of security unless that person has never taken a single picture in their entire life. It's just something a little fun and "high-tech". Nothing beats a standard pin for security still. Still, flawed? I don't see how.

As for the lack of a menu button and TTS, these could be somewhat valid arguments, but still, a lack of a menu button is a matter of personal opinion. I tend to agree somewhat that even with soft buttons, I'd like to see menu and search, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that hacked into Android once devs start messing with ICS more. iOS doesn't have a menu button though. WP7 doesn't have a menu button. If it's something you "hate" about ICS, where are you going to run to instead? And TTS is honestly very impressive to me, even in previous versions of Android. If it's improved in ICS, then making it even better would be great. It gets what I say right 95% of the time if I'm in a moderately quite environment and speak clearly. Perhaps you have an accent to throw it off, perhaps it's not quite as good as Siri, but it's certainly not bad at all.

osm0sis said,
Give the guy a break. His ICS and Galaxy Nexus reviews are great.

I did kind of come off sounding like a dick, but even someone with the slightest knowledge of technology should be able to come up with something better. It's not the first time. Most of Neowin's news is recycled after it's been posted on other actual news sites, and most of the in house stuff is very very poor. I like Neowin, but the front page news is basically worthless.

LOL, can't you guys find a more flattering pic of Steve? Man, looks like he is on the receiving end of a prostate exam!

And this is really a "Editorial"?
This is a rant written by someone for the sole reason of bit.... errr... complaining.

> Getting high resolution contact photos is a pain.

Someone please hand him a Android User's Guide where the use of the camera is explained ... or ... where it's explained how to set contact photos from images saved from the web.

> Facebook contact sync is also not available on ICS

Who needs Facebook? That and Twitter was the first thing I killed out of the ROM anyway, simply because I don't need that bloatware; though there are better alternatives out there on the Market than the lousy coded genuine ones.

> The lack of a dedicated menu button is annoying

Hmmm... it would seem that funny thing in the bottom right of the button bar looks like the "menu button". However, it seems to be a matter of taste. I for one like the subtle changes Google introduced to the ICS UI.

> Instant speech-to-text is not perfect

You think Siri is any better in this regard?

> Face unlock is flawed

Oh well... seems someone missed out on the fact that live face recognition comes with a insanely high error rate (at least with non highly professional environments / software solutions). It's a "value added" Gimmick. If you're so concerned use Pin or Pattern lock.

> ICS is not fully compatible with all apps

Hold the presses! Not each and every Developer out there adapted her/his app yet! The end of the world is neigh!


Sorry, but this "Editorial" is just unqualified ranting - I don't see how this is even news or worthy being posted on Neowin's frontpage. The writer would better fit Gizmodo, Engadget or Lifehacker with this kind of "Review".

Wow, how silly. The Facebook "digging in your contacts" thing can be seen as a security issue. Also, LOTS of devices have lacked hardware Menu buttons. I'd say 90%+ of my device use the past few years have been with on-screen buttons such as "Menu".
And app compatibility? With the glacial pace of development some apps get, how is it Android's fault that old software wasn't updated?

I've always hated syncing contact photos with whatever crap they put on their facebook/twitter/google+ profiles anyway.

The whole point of contact photos on the phone is, at least for me, to easily recognize a contact and not having to write down surnames for people with the same name. The random stuff people choose as "avatar" in their social network of choice doesn't always allow that, and then they probably change them every now and then, so you only get a prettified contact list with random images.

I never agreed on going completely buttonless. Not with iOS, not with WP, and without a doubt from what it seems not on Android.

menu button for me would be a problem, but like they said in the keynote, Manfacturers can have the menu button or go all screen. This is something many people needs to reliaze is that Google is allowing the use of both on screen controls or have a buttons like we do now. After all its Android. its choice. you have a choice people unlike Apple.

CMG_90 said,
menu button for me would be a problem, but like they said in the keynote, Manfacturers can have the menu button or go all screen. This is something many people needs to reliaze is that Google is allowing the use of both on screen controls or have a buttons like we do now. After all its Android. its choice. you have a choice people unlike Apple and Microsoft.

everytime I see "ICS" I read it in my head as "internet connection sharing" because thats what Microsoft use to always use as the acroymn for it..

neufuse said,
everytime I see "ICS" I read it in my head as "internet connection sharing" because thats what Microsoft use to always use as the acroymn for it..
Most people haven't had to say "internet connection sharing" so often that they needed to use an acronym.

The lack of a dedicated menu button is annoying. Literally all previous Android smartphones have had a menu button, and to suddenly remove it in favour of in-app menus takes a considerable amount of getting used to.

I'd still say that's preferable to having a menu button with no indication as to if it does something or not...

For example there was one place and one place only in the settings app (in gingerbread), which is essentially a menu the begin with, where the menu button opened a menu and offered more options but there is no indication whatsoever of this (it's in network or wifi settings, the menu button gives you advance wifi settings).

Whilst I agree on some points with Mr Godlike above....the fact is (and for the record I own a Galaxy Nexus) that a Google experience phone such as this should be a "consolidated effort" between Software Dev & Hardware Manufacturer which is ultimately closer than any other Android based device out there.

That's the whole point. So the argument about the lack of menu button being hardware not ICS doesn't wash.

VoX said,
People use Facebook? Grow up a little...Humans.

Unfortunately for you, yes. But stating that everyone who doesn't apply to your world which includes hating Facebook should grow up is pretty closed-minded.

VoX said,
People use Facebook? Grow up a little...Humans.

Of the about 800 million people on Facebook, Im sure you know at least 1-2 of the "little humans" on there....

Facebook contact sync will be available on those devices that currently have it and get updated to ICS (And probably most new devices) but due to Google and Facebooks falling out the Nexus line seems to lack it (Minus the N1).

Hollow.Droid said,
Facebook contact sync will be available on those devices that currently have it and get updated to ICS (And probably most new devices) but due to Google and Facebooks falling out the Nexus line seems to lack it (Minus the N1).

It's not available on my Samsung Galaxy S with a custom ICS ROM installed. I believe Facebook has disabled it for ICS all together

Hollow.Droid said,
Facebook contact sync will be available on those devices that currently have it and get updated to ICS (And probably most new devices) but due to Google and Facebooks falling out the Nexus line seems to lack it (Minus the N1).

So stupid. If Facebook keeps this up, they can lose a lot of people to Google+. Anyway with that said. I don't rely on FB for contact photos.

UndergroundWire said,

So stupid. If Facebook keeps this up, they can lose a lot of people to Google+. Anyway with that said. I don't rely on FB for contact photos.

Yeah, I don't see how Facebook removing support for photo sync is a good play on their part.. It won't make people not use Android phones, it only makes people angry at Facebook.

They have definitely made some steps in the right direction with ICS, although others might not agree with me.

Until speech-to-text is faster than text input and doesn't need constant correction, I will stick to the faster and more accurate keyboard input.

I've always had this idea. That said, I've felt like an idiot in the past when I've tried talking to a device, so I probably wouldn't start using it even if it were 100% accurate.

Intrinsica said,

I've always had this idea. That said, I've felt like an idiot in the past when I've tried talking to a device, so I probably wouldn't start using it even if it were 100% accurate.

To be fair, that will change when it becomes more like the norm. 10 years ago, it wasn't "cool" to have a massive phone, now all of a sudden it's classed almost as an elite status and smaller phones just aren't as cool. Times change, and so do social norms

However, speech to text and text to speech is very handy when getting text messages while driving, especially if you already have a bluetooth headset or other handsfree device on. This feature on WP7 was one of the things I really liked about it (and it seemed very accurate to me, even with my rather strong Southern accent). That level of integration is one thing I miss from that platform now that I've moved to Android. I just can't seem to get things to work as well as it did on WP7.

How is app compatibility a flaw in ICS? This happens to every OS with a major release.

Facebook contact sync probably requires an update to the FB app

Menu button would depend on the device? When my GSII gets updated itll have a dedicated menu button sure. If a device chooses to leave it out, thats the device, not the OS.

Beyond Godlike said,
How is app compatibility a flaw in ICS? This happens to every OS with a major release.

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.

Did it happen going from Windows 98 to XP? From XP to Vista? I think so. The point is, it isn't considered a flaw so much as a drawback of upgrading. The software companies will update their software eventually so all of this will be moot anyhow.

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.

Has there been a major version change in WP7, its a new platform. iOS hasnt changed much really, they just add cosmetic features stolen from android to woo their users.

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.

Windows Phone is too new to really count, and yes it does happen on iOS as well.

Beyond Godlike said,

Facebook contact sync probably requires an update to the FB app

Well, more to it than that. Facebook versus Google thing. Search it.

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.
Try running any remotely new app on an iPhone 3G with 3.1.3 (higher iOS version are not available on this platform).

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.

It does to some part. Many iOS apps have released updates since iOS5 was released with the change notes simply stating they fixed some iOS5 related notes. That said I haven't actually experienced any issues myself.

PotatoJ said,
Try running any remotely new app on an iPhone 3G with 3.1.3 (higher iOS version are not available on this platform).

iPhone 3G supports iOS 4.2.1 (slow but it works)
The original iPhone supports up to 3.1.3

CrimsonBetrayal said,

Did it happen going from Windows 98 to XP? From XP to Vista? I think so. The point is, it isn't considered a flaw so much as a drawback of upgrading. The software companies will update their software eventually so all of this will be moot anyhow.

It's actually worse than that if you're going from GB to ICS, that's a TWO version leap, so it's like going from Windows XP straight to Windows 7.

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.

As others have said, Microsoft haven't introduced an update yet that did anything to change behaviour (other than adding it with Mango).

As a fair comparison, you'd have to try running a WP7 app on WinMo 6.5. Let me know how that works out for you.

Konstantine said,
+1 Some people write just to write. Pff

they write w/e they have in their mind and since we give enough attention in their articles, they get paid

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.

So Windows Mobile apps are compatible in WP?

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.

There have been numerous apps on iOS that didn't work 100% with new versions until the app developer updated the app. You don't SEE it as much though because developers on iOS tend to release the updates BEFORE the new iOS version is generally available.

roadwarrior said,

There have been numerous apps on iOS that didn't work 100% with new versions until the app developer updated the app. You don't SEE it as much though because developers on iOS tend to release the updates BEFORE the new iOS version is generally available.

I've noticed with several apps on my iPad actually.

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.

you sir are a idiot

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS ...

Yes it does. My team at work is presently updating our app to work on iOS5..... the update broke compatability.

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.

I'm pretty sure some apps on iOS dont work on old/new versions. Also try running a windows 6.5 app on 7 or 7.5 NOT GONNA WORK.

troll

Auzeras said,

I'm pretty sure some apps on iOS dont work on old/new versions. Also try running a windows 6.5 app on 7 or 7.5 NOT GONNA WORK.

troll


clearly not trolling. Personally, I think comparing winmo to wp7 is like comparing dos to windows. Yes, both by Microsoft, but so different you wouldn't expect an app to work on both.

Invizibleyez said,

clearly not trolling. Personally, I think comparing winmo to wp7 is like comparing dos to windows. Yes, both by Microsoft, but so different you wouldn't expect an app to work on both.

the point here is when you have a major upgrade there is always going to be compatibility issues with apps on any platform... you were wrong on ur initial statement... so yes it happens on iOS and in future wp7

still1 said,

the point here is when you have a major upgrade there is always going to be compatibility issues with apps on any platform... you were wrong on ur initial statement... so yes it happens on iOS and in future wp7

ok wp7 is still only 1 year old. So far no problems with "fragmentation" as they call it. iOS for the most part doesn't have the fragmentation problem, but it does exist. Android, however, has always been known to have a large fragmentation problem. Doesn't really matter whos fault it is. If it's a problem that people frequently notice and complain about, it's a big problem.

Invizibleyez said,

ok wp7 is still only 1 year old. So far no problems with "fragmentation" as they call it. iOS for the most part doesn't have the fragmentation problem, but it does exist. Android, however, has always been known to have a large fragmentation problem. Doesn't really matter whos fault it is. If it's a problem that people frequently notice and complain about, it's a big problem.

Both my wife and I have owned Android phones for over a year. I have seen them through many an upgrade (2.1, 2.2, 2.2.3, 4.0) I have yet to experience anything different than what I experienced on her iPhone (4G, 4GS, iOS 3, iOS 4) before she made the switch... proof or enough with the "fragmentation" cries already. I have proof to the contrary, I've seen no proof to disprove my own experiences with the Android platform...

I'm tired of the Android haters screaming fragmentation, just like I'm sure they're tired of the Apple haters screaming "sheep" at them as the walk down the road...

Auzeras said,

I'm pretty sure some apps on iOS dont work on old/new versions. Also try running a windows 6.5 app on 7 or 7.5 NOT GONNA WORK.

troll

He wasn't trolling. He just another ignorant fanboy.

Invizibleyez said,

Doesn't happen in iOS or Windows Phone. I've only ever heard of this as a problem on Android.

Super Monkey Ball 2 stopped working altogether since upgrading to iOS 5. Black screen only.

Beyond Godlike said,
Facebook contact sync probably requires an update to the FB app

I wish that were true.

The problem is Facebook wants direct access to the contacts, not through the API like they're supposed to. Google has decided "no Facebook, do it right". They have always enforced this policy on the Nexus S (see http://www.slashgear.com/nexus...htens-data-policy-23135396/ ), just not on any other phones. The Galaxy Nexus is simply the next Google phone to enforce this "use the god damn API, facebook!" policy.