The All-in-One Era of Android

Google and Samsung recently released their latest and greatest flagship phone, the Galaxy Nexus, running Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich). I watched a video review of the device and I was very impressed with Google’s latest offering because it represented some big changes to Android that are going to be fantastic.

I took to my own site and penned an article praising the new phone and OS. Being an Apple-focused site, I threw a bit of iPhone discussion in there, looking at Apple’s ageing mobile interface compared to Google’s fresh, modern, almost Windows Phone-ish interface.

However, Ice Cream Sandwich is helping Google recognise some big improvements to Android that is going to edge them towards a level of customer satisfaction provided by companies like Apple and Amazon, with fully integrated devices and all-in-one solutions.

Finally Better Than the Competition

The Galaxy Nexus features vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich with no skins or anything else lying on top. Ice Cream Sandwich features a new user interface that, for the first time, looks better than anything on any other phone, in my opinion. When putting a pre-ICS Android device next to any other major smartphone, Android would have lost out because it just hasn’t looked that impressive. But the new style of Ice Cream Sandwich looks a lot more detailed and refined – and, more importantly, united.

Every bit of the stock interface looks united with an abundance of clean, elegant typography. It looks as if Google has taken a page out of Microsoft’s book with a clean colour palette and a “boxy” feel on toggle switches, menus and other interface elements. I find it difficult to put into words; Ice Cream Sandwich looks so delicious I could eat it.

Image courtesy of The Verge.

As you can see from the image above, Ice Cream Sandwich looks much better than Gingerbread in many ways. If Android’s UI was designed by one person, you could definitely see progress over their career with the Gingerbread to ICS jump being massive.

You might wonder why I’m talking about UI in an article focused on ecosystems. Well, it’s about unity. Ice Cream Sandwich offers a nice interface that should offer a favourable experience for consumers, but beyond this, Google is (finally!) offering a united content front for customers.

Ecosystems

One of the biggest successes Apple has had is in building up its interface. With iCloud and iTunes, living inside the Apple ecosystem is one big convenience with a whole lot of syncing going on to keep everything from your favourite movie to your latest emails in sync across all your Apple devices.

With Amazon’s recent release of the Kindle Fire, it’s proven that Apple isn’t the only one who can succeed well because of their ecosystem. Amazon retails music, apps, books and pretty much everything Apple’s digital stores have on offer, and can easily translate this into a product as they have with the Kindle Fire. With the Kindle Fire, even though it’s running Android, you can get all your content from a single provider, Amazon, on the device.

Take the Amazon experience and put it side-by-side with that of the HTC phone I used in the earlier half of this year. Unlike when I got my iPhone, and I could just sync it with iTunes to get all my content on the device, the only thing that I could purchase on my Android device was apps. Movies, music and everything else came from any random service that had compatible files; not at all as intuitive or simple as what iOS and iTunes offered.

Movies on the Android Market

However, with some significant new releases over the past year or so, Google has began to remedy this situation. Of course, you can still buy apps through the Android Market as normal, but you can also buy and stream music through Google Music and rent movies through the Android Market.

Google is deeply integrating these new stores and services into Android, meaning that when you get a new phone, these are available to you and will likely be your first choice – which is fantastic. Instead of having to search online for instructions on putting your music on your phone, or having to find some third-party service that would allow you to buy it on Android, Google’s service is right at the front.

Likewise, Google’s YouTube is there for your video sharing/viewing desires, as is newer services like Google+.

Fortunately for Android users – new ones especially – Google is starting to retail everything you could want on your phone and putting it right there at your fingertips. No longer should you need to find a solution yourself because Google is it, much in the same ways as iTunes, the App Store and iBooks is to any Apple user. And, of course, because this is Google, you can get this stuff across your Android devices, as well as through your browser on Mac and PC.

Google’s storefronts plus Ice Cream Sandwich is finally creating the feeling of an all-in-one product and not the “mess” that Android was before.

Are you finding Google’s retail of much more content over the past year a lot simpler than having to introduce a third-party solution yourself? Share your experiences in the comments!


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