Operating Systems

Google Unwraps Ice Cream Sandwich with Samsung

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Google officially unveils Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) at a Hong Kong Samsung event, where Samsung announces the first smartphone running on the OS-- the Galaxy Nexus.

Galaxy NexusIce Cream Sandwich offers a gelataria of improvements on previous Android iterations-- unifying the Google platform as it merges the smartphone (Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread) and tablet (Android 3.0 aka Honeycomb) versions of the OS.

The UI gets a complete makeover, thanks to tweaks ranging from a new font ("Roboto") adorning the menus, refined animations and the elimination of physical navigation buttons via virtual buttons in the system bar.

Security gets something of an improvement-- facial recognition. Google calls the feature "Face Unlock," and... it failed to work as planned during the on-stage demo.

The OS also supports Near Field Communications (NFC) with "Android Beam," allowing content sharing between NFC-enabled handsets through tapping devices together.

As is typical (so far, at least) with new Android iterations, Samsung unveils a flagship handset-- the Galaxy Nexus, carrying a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a 4.65", 1280x720 super AMOLED Samsung touchscreen.

The Android 4.0 SDK is already available for developers, while customers will get to taste the OS once the Galaxy Nexus launches in Europe this November.

Go Android 4.0 for Users

Go Unwrapping Ice Cream Sandwich on the Galaxy Nexus

Nokia's New OS Brings Wind of Change

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Nokia plans a new operating system ("Meltemi") for cheap feature phones aimed at growing emerging markets.

NokiaThe name for this Linux-based system comes from the Greek word for the strong, dry north winds of the Aegean Sea, which blow from about mid-May to mid-September. During hot summer days, these winds are considered a blessing. Similar winds blow in the Adriatic and Ionian regions.

Obviously Nokia feels a cheaper OS will give emerging markets a blessing (and maybe even curse more expensive solutions from competitors.)

Wall Street Journal says heading the project is Nokia executive VP for mobile phones, Mary McDowell.

It pays for Nokia to focus on the feature phone market-- this segment accounts around 47% of Nokia Q2 2011 sales. Their customers in emerging markets now started to expect some smartphone functionality even from cheaper, lower-end devices.

News site Boy Genius Report thinks Meltemi will replace the Nokia Series 40 platform, as its more capable while running on equally low-cost hardware.

Nokia will apparently still offer low-cost Windows Phone devices (running "Tango," the stripped down version of Windows Phone 7). Now Meltemi will allow Nokia to sell phones at even lower, rock-bottom prices.

Replying to the BGR report, Nokia simply says "...our Mobile Phones team has a number of exciting projects in the works."

Go Nokia Aims Software at Low-End Phones (WSJ)

Go Nokia to Turn Mobile Landscape on its Head with "Meltemi" (BGR)

MeeGo is Dead, Long Live Tizen?

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As MeeGo (the Nokia-Intel Linux-based mobile device OS project) fades away following Nokia's move to Windows Phone, the Linux Foundation announces a new open source project-- Tizen, a standards-based cross-architecture software platform for multiple devices.

TizenWith an initial release aiming for Q1 2012, Tizen should support smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-vehicle infotainment systems. The Linux Foundation hopes the first Tizen-powered devices should be available by H2 2012.

The platform will support HTML5 for device-independent app development as well as the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) standards.

Leading development are Intel and Samsung, together with the LiMo Foundation-- a consortium consisting of ACCESS, Panasonic Mobile, NEC Casio, NTT DoCoMo, Samsung, SK Telecom, Telefonica and Vodafone.

As budding mobile device platforms (webOS, anyone?) struggle against the rival iOS and Android  behemoths, how will Tizen fare on the battlefield? So far Samsung confirms its support, telling Reuters "we've been a core Linux partner ... and this is in line with our strategy of supporting many platforms."

Meanwhile analysts suggest big operators might "get worried by Android's increasing smartphone dominance" and switch platforms in order to restrict Google's influence on the mobile market. Either way, we should know how Tizen will fare by around this time next year.

Go LiMo Foundation and Linux Foundation Announce New Open Source Software Platform, Tizen

Go Intel, Samsung to Get Behind New Linux Phone software

Windows 8 Preview Confirms Tablet Ambitions

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While the Windows 8 developer preview (available following the BUILD 2011 conference) is meant for developers, it confirms one fact-- Microsoft designed the latest Windows update for tablet use.

That's before mentioning the 5000 BUILD attendees who got free Windows 8 Samsung tablets, in an obvious gesture against Apple.

Windows 8Confirmation comes as soon as one loads the OS-- a Windows Phone-style "lock screen" greets the user, who has to drag an image upwards to reveal a login prompt. A clumsy gesture for mouse users, but natural for touch-based use.

Then there's the Metro UI, the tile-based system looking like Windows Phone for tablets (users can still switch to a "desktop" option providing the more familiar Start Menu).

Windows 8 is also compatible with ARM processors (as well as x86)-- even if legacy software is not cross-compatible with ARM devices.

Microsoft will also sell Windows 8 software through an iTunes-style online store.

Will Windows 8 prove to be the mytical "iPad killer"? Obviously, it's too early to tell-- but Microsoft appears to have a good chance to (at least!) take over the market share left by the ailing RIM Playbook.

Go Windows 8 Developer Preview

Android to Get Intel Optimisation

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Intel and Google announce an alliance optimising Android for Intel chips, with Google's Andy Rubin joining Intel CEO Paul Otellini at the Intel Developer Forum 2011 keynote.

Otellini SmartphoneThe joint effort will leverage Intel technology across both smartphones and tablets, improving Android performance on x86 architecture.

During the keynote Otellini shows a Medfield-powered smartphone running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), while the show attendees can also find a Medfield-powered Honeycomb tablet prototype.

Other Google products (such as Chrome OS and Google TV) and the Android SDK and NDK will also be Intel-optimised.

One can interpret the announcement as a sign of further cracks within the Wintel alliance-- particularly with Windows 8 working on low-power Arm processors as well as Intel designs.

Go Intel and Google to Optimise Android Platform for Intel Architecture