Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is the code name for the latest Android Operating System (version 4.0) which was designed to unify the OSes for the Android smartphones and tablets. ICS is rolling out slowly now for the newly released Android smartphones, but OS updates for existing phones are not coming out so frequently. From what I’ve read, Google released ICS for the Samsung Nexus S but only for the AT&T and T-Mobile versions (not Sprint).
Since I have a Sprint Nexus S 4G, I don’t have the ability to officially upgrade to ICS. However, Google has released the ICS code to the general public, allowing people to compile and create their own custom ROMs. Fortunately for me, a person named Pete Alfonso has taken the time to create such a custom ROM for the Nexus S 4G using the released ICS code. I’ve been running his custom ROM for the previous “Gingerbread” Android OS (version 3.0) for the last few months with excellent performance, so I trust his ICS version will work equally as well. Thus, I’ve installed his 12-20-2011 nightly version on my Nexus S 4G and have been running ICS for the last 12 hours or so.
ICS seems to be running very well on my Nexus S. It definitely has a new look-and-feel compared to the Gingerbread OS, which I like. It actually reminded me slightly of the Windows Phone 7 OS, where some of the controls like the buttons had a more flat appearance. The colors, layout, etc. in ICS really makes it look polished (much better than the version 1.0 of Android!).
ICS also runs very smoothly, and I haven’t had any issues with this custom ROM. GPS, WiFi, and the Hotspot WiFi all worked fine. The only big issue I can find is with the high battery drain. After using my Nexus S for about a day, I noticed substantially decreased battery life over what I was experiencing with the previous Gingerbread OS. Apparently, this is a known issue and it seems that Google has suspended the release of the ICS upgrade to other phones until they get this resolved. Last night I went through the process of wiping my handset’s “Battery Status” which is suppose to help increase the top battery charge level, so I’ll see if that helps to extend my battery life.
Also, I found that a few apps I was using with Gingerbread needed updating to work with ICS. For example, I needed to update my Netflix app to run under ICS (the Android Market had an update for Netflix specifically for the ICS version 4.0 OS). But for the most part, all of my other apps ran just fine under ICS.
So it looks like Google has taken another step forward in the evolution of the Android OS. I’m anxious to see how well ICS runs on my Acer Iconia A500 tablet (whenever that update or custom ROM becomes available).
PS: If you’re interested in installing this Custom ROM, go to http://www.androidcentral.com and visit their Forums under “Sprint Nexus S 4G” and the “Custom ROMS, Hacks” section. There’s a posting for ICS using Pete Alfonso’s custom ROM.