Ice Cream Sandwich Means One Less Android OS Fork

Now that the new android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich, has arrived, many people (especially developers) are breathing a sigh of relief. There are many different devices and carriers out there and each have their own devices. Each hardware company has their own bloatware *ahem* I mean, dynamic interface, laid on top of the OS.

Take all that and the fact that when the tablets were introduced, they all got Honeycomb; a fairly different operating system and interface from Gingerbread on the smart phones and it made transitioning between the two somewhat difficult as the interface paradigms were different enough to baffle some users.

The hope is that with the re-merging of the fork between these OSs where both handsets and tablets are run with the same program, there will be an improved android ecosystem.

It sounds great, but the problem is that there are still too many fragmented projects with android. Open source is great for innovative development and free market ideas, but it is difficult for programmers, let alone us lowly end users, to understand what is happening and which one would really be a better solution for our needs.

Ice Cream Sandwich is a step in the right direction. Now there needs to be additional progress towards a more unified release cycle across all devices, carriers and OS upgrades. While you are at it, lets remove things like blur or other carrier and hardware UI skins. They just get in the way and generally provide very little value to most users. Make them applications that people can download if they choose.

Please leave your thoughts below about android development and what it means for end users.

Logitech Revue Finally Getting 3.1 Update

I have not posted for many moons due to being extremely buys lately, and frankly, not being that inspired.

But late last night, I started hearing rumors about our Google TV box from Logitech finally receiving its update. It was met with much skepticism by the early adopter and android community. Who could blame us? We have had to wait over a month since the Sony Google TV boxes got the update! Plus dealing with generic “sometime in the coming weeks” timeframes.

Luckily, later in the evening, we got confirmation from the Logitech Blog:

We are pleased to announce that we will begin delivering a free software update of the Android 3.1 platform to Logitech Revue™ with Google TV™ this week. If you’re already a Revue user, simply ensure your unit is turned on and connected to the Web, and accept the update that pops up onto your TV screen. New customers are expected to receive this version automatically upon activation.

Some of the key developments include more entertainment choices such as access to Android Market; faster and more comprehensive search and browse capabilities; a simplified user interface, and improvements to the Logitech Media Player.

With the Android Market now available through your Logitech Revue, you’ll get new and useful apps all the time, such as the new Google Music app, making your Logitech Revue the fastest growing entertainment hub in your living room. At launch, the Android Market will feature around 50 apps optimized for HDTV, and we expect number of apps to increase over time.

In a world of infinite entertainment choices you need an easy way to discover the content you want to watch: Logitech Revue has you covered. The Google Chrome browser brings full search capabilities to your HDTV, along with full keyboard navigation and support for Adobe Flash player version 10.2.

The Quick Search Box quickly vets TV content, Web video, Apps, Bookmarks, and the Web, so you can spend less time searching and more time watching. And the TV & Movies app allows people to easily search, watch and even rate more than 80,000 movies and TV episodes from cable, Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.

With the Logitech Media Player software and your Logitech Revue, you can unlock your computer’s library of music, movies and photos to enjoy on your HDTV.

What’s more, Logitech Revue can help you visit with friends and family. Thanks to the optional Logitech TV Cam and Vid HD service, you can make and receive high definition video calls on your HDTV, and from the comfort of your couch.

Customer feedback is very important to us, and we worked closely with Google to ensure that Logitech Revue with the next version of Google TV incorporates the features and improvements that are most important to you. With these improvements, we hope you find that the Logitech Revue with the next version of Google TV is an easy way to integrate your existing broadcast or pay TV service with Internet content all on your HDTV.

I think I speak for many of us when I say that I may be willing to forget all that if the update reaches me and I can at least have a working browser, a cleaned up interface, access to the market and hope for a software based root access.

I realize that Logitech will not continue to update or even support the Revue moving forward, but I hope it can at least be a reasonably useful tool as is.

Once I get my update, I will be sure to post a review (or a well done one by others). All the negativity and disappointment expressed so for for the Honeycomb update has been with the Sony and the leaked versions. I still hold out for the possibility that this delay in our update allowed programmers to improve on the 3.1.

Google Email for Google TV Update

I have been waiting (somewhat impatiently) for nearly a year for the update to Google TV 2.0 with Honeycomb 3.1.

I knew from recent press releases from Google that the update was to start rolling out to the Sony boxes and televisions this weekend and the Logitech Revues would get it “early this week”.

What I didn’t expect, was to receive an email that really undersells the features. Maybe Google feels they got burned by raising expectations too high on the initial release and are hoping to get better feedback from customers upon this release.

The content of the email follows:

Hello,

Thank you for having purchased a Google TV product with the initial version of our software.

We’re excited to send you this advance notice about a number of software improvements that will soon be coming to your device through an automatic update. The update is rolling out over the next few weeks.

When you see a dialogue box on your TV saying “update available,” feel free to click “update now,” otherwise you can postpone the update by a few hours by clicking “not now” (handy if you’re in the middle of watching a movie). Once the update has downloaded, just follow the on-screen instructions.

The on-screen instructions include a quick guide to what’s new, but here’s an overview of the exciting new features we’re bringing you:

Keep it simple

The interface is now much simpler. The new customizable home screen gets you to your favorite content quickly. And within “all apps” you can see all of your shortcuts, similar to your Android phone or tablet.

Keeping It Simple!

Make it easy to find something worth watching

We’ve improved search across the board for content from live TV, Netflix, YouTube, HBO GO, and more. But what if you don’t know what to search for? There’s now an app called “TV & Movies” that let’s you easily browse through 80,000 movies and TV episodes across cable or satellite, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and many other sites. If you’ve opted in to recommendations, we can better predict what you want to watch next.

Making it Easy!

Make YouTube better on TV

We’re launching a new YouTube experience specifically built for Google TV. It is now fast and easy to get to your favorite HD-quality YouTube entertainment. And we’ve integrated YouTube more closely with Google TV search, so that you can turn virtually any topic – mountain biking, cooking, etc. – into a channel.

YouTube on the Big Screen!

Bring more apps to TV

We are opening up the TV to the creativity of content creators large and small through Android Market. Android developers can now bring existing mobile apps or entirely new ones to TV. Initially, the number of apps won’t be large – for example, apps requiring a touch screen, GPS, or telephony won’t show up – but 50 developers have seeded the Market with some cool and useful apps for the TV. We’re excited to see the number of apps grow.

More Apps on TV!

For even more information on these changes, check out these links:

  1. Help Center
  2. Website

You can also see our revised Additional Terms of Service and Privacy Note that apply to our updated software here

Happy TV watching!

The Google TV Team

Motorola Android Razr

My favorite cell phone was for many years, the Razor (& the Krazr)

All the best rumors about the release today say that Motorola and Google have teamed up to release something similar with the Android operating system on it.
Check out the teaser video:

Will it have Ice Cream Sandwich? I can’t wait to find out.

Engadget will be blogging the press conference today in real time on THIS SITE. Check it out!

For the Hands On Up close pictures, check out the slideshow.