Android 4.0.3 on the Motorola Xoom – first impressions …

I got the update the other day, and so far not a big fan – Honeycomb felt a lot more polished. The new font is taller meaning the keyboard takes up more screen space (maybe that’s an illusion though), everything is slower, tapping in text to edit is less precise (can be words away from where you tapped, and you then have to drag the cursor – Honeycomb suffered this, but not as badly), a couple of apps no longer work (including my twitter client), and email seems random in which messages it downloads, and it is the slowest app of the lot despite being bundled with the OS.

Visually, aside from the boot up screen, everything has a hint of ewwww to it – I especially dislike the analog clock, the font, the changed icons, and some screen flipping effects. I also miss in the notification tray being able to dismiss notifications individually – it is now an all or nothing affair. The only plus really is wifi seems to be running better, with a stronger signal.

Overall I pretty much regret updating – I suggest fellow owners research before updating. Other people’s comments I’ve read have been more positive, but aside from the wifi I so far fail to see the positive to it.

Apple vs Samsung vs Google vs the world

So Apple are taking legal action to try and prevent Samsung releasing their new Honeycomb tablet in Australia, and now in Europe also, on the basis of breaching patents. Some of the patents seems questionable at best (such as using a gesture to unlock the screen) and in my view it is ridiculous that such things are allowed to be patented in the first place. Needless to say Samsung are taking action against Apple for other things, Apple against other manufacturers also, and just about everyone else in the mobile industry seems to be taking action against each other for just existing. Meanwhile Google are spending a ridiculous sum for Motorola Mobility seemingly primarily for 25,000 odd mobile technology patents as a bit of future protection against such actions.

Now, I fully appreciate that some ideas are truely innovative and need protecting, but the extent to which all this sort of thing is happening all seems a tad fucking pathetic. Honestly, if company X thinks they have the superior product to company Y, why not fight it out in the shops rather than the courts?

On a side note the purchase of Moto by the big G is interesting – Google say they are out to protect Android against certain legal action, but it gives them the hardware to become an all stop shop like Apple. I’ve not been a big fan of Motorola in the past, but the Xoom is a seriously nice piece of kit (see earlier blog post) showing they have potential to compete in the hardware stakes. If Google do start giving Motorola an advantage, then (as has been mentioned on a few news websites) other Android players may “up shop” and switch to a new platform. Given how quick Motorola were in releasing Honeycomb 3.2 compared to others, who’s to say it isn’t already happening?

Google need to be very careful here – there’s already the threat of paying a per handset fee to Apple for alleged patent violations, and now there’s a chance they could alienate their biggest allies. They need companies like Samsung and HTC on side, and to do it they need to show Motorola won’t get any advantage in earlier releases or extra OS features. Motorola’s market share is currently too small for Google to stand alone with. Then again if Google and Samsung were to merge …

Could Ice Cream Sandwich be the last version of Android? I hope not, even if it’s only because it’s too stupid a name to go down in history as the end of a technological era.