Its no secret that I am a fan of Android, I like all things android. The open culture, the price, the apps, the ease of building for the system and the ability to mod the software and hardware to my hearts content. No other mobile platform provides any serious hacker with the ability to tinker with the system as much as Android does.
Sure, it has drawbacks too, and at some point in a future article, it would be good to compare the strengths and weaknesses of Android versus other mobile OS's.
Well anyhow, my HTC Desire GSM from mid 2010 was running the leedroid ROM for some time (I chose Leedroid after having experimented with both cyanogenmod and leedroid and decided I prefered the aesthetics of HTC sense). The stock ROM that came with my HTC desire didnt support moving apps to SD card, hence I decided to root the device and put a ROM on there that would allow me to install lots of apps without complaining about space. Leedroid had come to the end of its life, as there had been no update for a few months plus my phone was getting clogged up and needed some spring cleaning. So I thought I'd investigate what the Ice Cream Sandwich buzz was all about.
After a short google search, I found a beta version of ICS for the HTC desire. Stability was not promised, but I figured I would give it a go. Installation was easy as my phone was rooted, all I had to do was put the zip file on my SD card and boot into recovery and install it.
After a short while of playing around with it, I found that the new interface was a very welcome addition. The features that I liked best:
- Lockscreen - can open up certain apps, like text messaging directly, so it saves a few taps on the screen, if u receive a message and want to check it.
- Updated Marketplace - The new interface looks very nice, although the pricing for some of the content was disagreeable - classic books for example were pretty expensive, compared to what is available for free on project gutenberg.
- Notification bar - This was pretty awesome. It lets you control many features of your phone directly, like sounds, music player, data connectivity as well as lets you see the notifications and clear them out with a very innovative slide (shame apple ripped this off completely for iOS5 and are now suing android for tonnes of other patent breaches)
- Voice - The voice search is vastly improved and well integrated into the OS.
- Interface lift - The interface was given a much needed uplift (so much that the default ICS interface pars well with HTC sense, my long time favourite look for android) - it has awesome animations, subtle interface tweaks and is so much smoother than before.
- Settings - This part of the OS recieved a lot of love from the developers, and now includes a data monitoring section (I will be very sorry to see 3G watchdog go from my phone). Battery and memory information has nice graphical data to display usage, which is quite aesthtic.
Ive added a few screenshots of my experimentation below (click to enlarge thumbnails), for the full set of images, visit the album on my google+ account.
Overall, the new interface was much to my liking, the beta version meant that there were a few crashes, especially the camera app - which managed to take 2 pictures before crashing. I dont think this is ready for day to day usage, but its clearly on the way. Id be more than happy to put a more stable version on this and use it for a little longer, before making the jump to a newer handset.
For more details on how to install and run this yourself, use the comments below to direct specific questions at me.
I'll try and get a video of this up and running soon.