Samsung promised Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) for the Galaxy Note and it looks like it’s finally here (at least for UK owners). I had given up checking for the update each day but today my phone prompted me to download the 318mb download.
Once downloaded the Note rebooted, installed the update and after about 20 minutes it was up and running Android 4.0. The first thing I noticed was that all my shortcuts and widgets that I have setup over the last few months where replaced with the standard Samsung layout which was a little frustrating but it didn’t take to long to get the ones I wanted back. No files or app settings were lost.
The first thing you notice is that some of the fonts have changed to the new Android font and I have to say it looks better, other than that at first glance you would be hard pressed to see any changes. The changes are subtile but important. The first one is that the exchange email app has been improved, it syncs better and the widget is clearer, also the gmail app is much improved and there is a new gmail widget. Also notifications have been improved, it’s clear and seems to add more details, again is subtle but is certainly makes it better to use.
There is also a new task manager that lists the apps in a vertical list which is much better to use. There are nice little touches like the being able to make the patten unlock screen smaller so it can be done one handed which on the earlier version would require two hands due to the large screen
As well as the ICS improvements there is also a new application from Samsung called S Note, the application designed for use with the Galaxy’s pen has a number of templates for taking notes and includes handwriting recognition, it will work with mathematical formulas that get calculated from Wolfram Alpha. I use Evernote for my note taking but it’s nice to see Samsung’s app work with the pen. There are also new S Memo widgets.
The performance seems unchanged and it’s to early to say if the battery life any different with ICS but so far I am impressed with the changes and it seems a nice incremental improvements. With Samsung’s Touchwiz sitting on top of ICS you can’t see some of the changes introduced in Android 4.0 but it’s certainly a nice upgrade.