Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery? - InformationWeek
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03:23 PM

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery?

Google rolled out Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on Wednesday. What's in, what's out, and what features did Google steal from the competition?

It appears that no feature is safe from being poached these days when it comes to the smartphone wars. The mighty Google took inspiration not only from iOS, but from Windows Phone, and webOS, too, in its most recent version of Android. Let's take a look.

Google's Android Chief Andy Rubin took the stage Wednesday morning in Hong Kong (or late Tuesday night, if you're on the East Coast) to introduce Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). Android 4.0 arrives approximately 11 months after its predecessor, Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and clearly shows that Google has been hard at work improving its mobile operating system.

Android 4.0 has an entirely new look and feel. Google's design chief, Matias Eduarte, was very proud to show off a new font for Android 4.0 called Roboto (hold the Styx jokes, please). It is pleasing, I guess, or at least not offensive. It gives the entire operating system a more Zen-like look to it.

Android 4.0 is big on integration and shortcuts, especially on the home screen. Consider the dock at the bottom of the Android home screen, for example. Often it holds shortcuts to four applications. In Android 4.0, it can hold folders--your favorite contacts, for example--so that you have them accessible across all the home screen panels on the device. There're similar mash-ups across the user interface.

The drop-down notification shade gets an update. Now, individual notifications can be cleared with but a swipe, while leaving other alerts unperturbed. It also includes easier access to vital system tools.

Of course, the most exciting new changes are the features that will be associated with the Galaxy Nexus, such as Face Unlock, Android Beam, and Voice Typing. With Face Unlock, the phone uses facial recognition software and the camera together so that only the user's visage will unlock the device. Of course, the demo totally failed on stage for Matias.

Android Beam takes advantage of a smartphone's NFC (near-field communications) to automatically send contact information between devices when tapped together. Both phones will need NFC chips and Android Beam software for this to work. Google said that it is including APIs for this feature in the Android 4.0 SDK.

The camera software has been revitalized with what Google calls "zero shutter lag," and will support panorama mode, new effects, HD video capture (device dependent), and more. Android 4.0 also includes Google Voice with Video Chat--and supports HD video chatting as long as the hardware does.

How did Google do in matching our five most-wanted features?

I think it scored pretty well on the first one, which was for a more polished and unified operating system. What Google showed clearly demonstrated that the company considered how things look, feel, and work across the entire OS.

Number two on our list was enterprise-grade security. As far as I recall, Google didn't say a single thing about security with Ice Cream Sandwich--other than to demonstrate the Face Unlock feature of the Galaxy Nexus.

Native video chat was number three, and Google came through big on that one. Heck, it even supports HD video chatting.

Google also took steps to improve the browser of Ice Cream Sandwich. It gave Android 4.0 better multitasking powers, and those filtered down to the browser, which now has better support for tabs, improved HTML5 and other design tweaks.

As for supporting a master inbox of sorts, Google didn't really dive deep enough into the Gmail experience for me to say with certainty. Given how much time Google spent talking about the big picture stuff and not the nitty-gritty details, it appears that a master inbox wasn't on the list of notable improvements.

So, did Google steal any new features from the other mobile platforms out there? It sure did! Here are a few of the most glaring thefts.

1. iOS: One of the neat UI tricks that Google demonstrated during its presentation was how you can grab home screen shortcuts, applications, and such and drag them all together to create folders. This is exactly how folders are created in iOS.

2. WebOS: In webOS, you can dismiss notifications by swiping them left or right. What did Google show off in its new notification center? The ability to dismiss notifications by swiping them off the screen.

3. Windows Phone: Considering the amount of money Microsoft is making by licensing out patents related to Android, I was surprised by this one. Google took Facebook integration to a new level. It wants you to interact with "people," not contacts. It goes so far as to import Facebook friends' recent photos and create a collage out of them. Guess who also does that? You guessed it! Microsoft!

Of course, there's a whole helluva a lot more under the skin with respect to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. If you want, go ahead and download the SDK right here.

SaaS productivity apps are good to go--if you can get past security and data ownership concerns. Read all about it in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek SMB. Download it now. (Free with registration.)

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User Rank: Apprentice
11/7/2011 | 8:53:01 PM
re: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery?
That bullshit rumor/story was started by a manic depressive maniac who didn't know his arse from a hole in the ground. FACTS (because I was involved with the industry back then and an investor in Xerox) about the transaction!

When Apple was trying to get the cash needed for their new Lisa project, they were looking for investors. Xerox was making incredible profits back then with equivalent cash as Apple today. They needed all the help they could get w/ a another Tax Shelter offer from Apple. Especially when start up IPO's in technical industry with a new product got them the Max of 5x investment. Because at the time IRS was giving companies or investors up to $5 to $1 write offs for what they spent buying Apple Pre-IPO stock options.

Beefallo Tax Shelter and other Tax Heavens were big business back then. Xerox had their own Tax Shelter in PARC Institute where you actually hope you're losing money because you got to write off 5 times your investment. Any R&D expenses were also considered Tax Shelters when connected to skunk works projects like PARC. That is you spend more without receiving any income in it's formative years and you got to deduct 5x that in income. Apple hit the spot for Xerox's CASH RICH needs at the perfect time. As they were considered high risk of failure w/ potential heavy losses. When first went public as a Technology Start-up share offerings.

So what do you think a "Start-up" company was looking back in those days? Yeah.... investors with CASH. But let me guess..... you think they were giving their non-existent future products and ideas away for free, because you believe Apple has always been cash rich! haha.... and where are they going to get that money to develop these new future products out of thin air right? Are you that moronic that you don't understand that when a company goes public (to be traded on stock market) it's because they are looking for funding of future product offerings? lol..... Read the Wiki..... iDIOT!

Xerox was looking for a way to get rid of some of their cash by investing it in companies with the greatest risk of possibly going under (then it's a total write off) with first Pre-IPO Stock Options. Apple was one of over 20 Technology investments for Tax Avoidance via Tax Sheltering their massive Cash Reserves by Xerox that year. Apple gave them nothing, because then they would still have to claim it as income and that's exactly what a Xerox's Tax Shelters were meant to avoid! ....PAYING HUGE CAPITAL GAINS TAX!!!

So Xerox pulled $1,000,000 out of their massive Cash Reserves in order to keep from paying Capital Gains Tax on 5 times that Tax Shelter investment in Apple Pre IPO stock offering as stated in Wiki here:

How do I know??? Because I brokered and sold Tax Shelters for a living back then, until President Reagan stumbled onto these fantastic tax loop holes offering 5 times your investment of income write offs..... for a living! ...and it was the Beefallo Tax Shelter Reagan found showing some companies sheltering millions of Tax Free Dollars the IRS couldn't touch. Bye bye tax loophole in 1986!!!
User Rank: Apprentice
10/24/2011 | 7:09:13 PM
re: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery?
Here's a list of things, many basic, that Android had before iOS. Sure Android stole a few things from iOS but my point is it isn't really fair to say that Android stole from iOS. I'm pretty sure more has been done the other way - as iOS has always been the more limited, less feature rich, OS.

3.Copy & paste
4.Voice dictation (it's excellent dictation, just no interaction or very limited control) but Android has had it standard, available everywhere on the keyboard, for 1.5 years.
5.Widgets G㢠though much more limited in iOS
6.Lock Screen functions G㢠not standard but in Android first
7.Notification bar
8.Cloud Activation/Cloud Sync
User Rank: Apprentice
10/24/2011 | 5:11:13 PM
re: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery?
Apple didn't steal XEROX IP for the GUI interface. They paid XEROX handsomely in Apple stock. XEROX could be bigger today if they had envisioned what to do with it and developed a computer product using it, they didn't. This has nothing to do with Apple paying XEROX for the IP then further developing it.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/24/2011 | 1:22:22 PM
re: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery?
I also remember when iPhone first came out. Two things struck me about it. First, when I looked at the iPhone, I thought to myself, that looks exactly like the LG Prada Phone and it probably costs as much too. That phone had been on the market for almost a year.

The other, and more startling thing that caught me was the news coverage. It was a big day for America and the American economy, but the "long awaited" iPhone introduction took up 5 out of 6 columns of the front page of my local newspaper, complete with giant headline and 3 column picture of Jobs holding up the new iPhone. Then, all the way to the right was a tiny article about the American economy falling apart and other less important things. That headline told me more about Apple's success than anything else.

I must say, though, Jobs was the most brilliant marketing person I have ever seen. I remember Napster and how it was the best thing that happened for music in many years, and I also remember how the music industry and the governemnt crushed it. Then, a few years later the iPod came along, complete with the "iTunes" store for buying your music. I thought to myself that the product was dead for two reasons. First, the format was not compatible with any other mp3 player, and worst of all, the corporate giant caved in to the government was was selling all the music. That was the very issue that enraged the entire web community only a few years before.

I recently heard that the iPod sold some 300Million units and iTunes has had 17Billion downloads (at at least a buck a pop). I realized that Jobs could sell anything to anyone. If that guy was selling Herpes, everyone would be the first to want to have it. That was his real genius and Ihave never seen anyone better at it.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/24/2011 | 10:17:24 AM
re: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery?
Hey Steve, Android stole features **straight** out of Windows Mobile 6 and iOS when it was released. I love when people think that Android invented the notification bar, Windows Mobile had the notification bar way before Android, and when Android was released, most of it was comprised of stuff stolen **straight** from iOS!! Your one sided views, Sir, are pure Fandroid "comment-ism" XD
User Rank: Apprentice
10/22/2011 | 9:14:01 PM
re: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery?
It's obvious that the author of this article must have worked for MSNBC or CNN because of his total lack of objectivity. InformationWeek truly needs to consider the employment of such an individual who shows his bias against Google so openly. If Google's Android 4.0 came out 3-4 months after the release of IOS 5.0, you can try to make a claim that Google might have stolen some ideas from Apple; but the fact that this release comes just weeks after IOS 5.0 tells you that there was no theft involved as it's possible for two groups of programmers to have the same idea. It would be interesting if this author would have accused Apple of theft if Android 4.0 had been released prior to Apple's new IOS.
Jon O
Jon O,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/22/2011 | 8:03:43 PM
re: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery?
You know what's the truth?

Andy Rubin is a shameless thief! He stole not only from Apple, he stole Java from SUN as well. He knew he was stealing and he could get sued according to the internal email revealed in the court.

Andy Rubin should be inducted to the Hall of Shame!
User Rank: Apprentice
10/21/2011 | 4:35:50 PM
re: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery?
Blame the patent office! -I never did understand why patients appear to be granted based solely on a concept. The only intellectual property that in my opinion should be protected is the method(eg. process), or mechanics behind the function. In other words, grant the patent for the process or specific components in contructing eg. a wheel. Just because some competitor figures out how to construct a wheel (perhaps even a better one) using an entirely different process, using differently designed components doesn't mean they infringed on the patent.

I think that William Shakespear was on to something when he wrote "kill the lawyers" ;)
User Rank: Apprentice
10/20/2011 | 10:41:06 PM
re: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery?
I'm just appalled of the lack of journalistic objectivity.
Doesn't InformationWeek have an editor?
Seriously Zeman go finish your iphone 4s review and stop reporting on android altogether.

1. Google borrowed some ideas from IOS.
Apples also borrowed from Android (Notifications anyone?)

2. I'm not surprised it has WebOS features.
Google hired Matias Duarte the former Palm WebOS senior developer.
He is behind the design of Honeycomb and Android 4.0

Also a former Palm WebOs developer is also working for Apple.
He developed what we know as the non-intrusive notification feature Android and Apple use.

Android and Apple owe a great deal of gratitude to WebOS.

3. Considering Microsoft also borrows ideas from other OSes
this isn't a big deal.

User Rank: Apprentice
10/20/2011 | 10:07:32 PM
re: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Brilliant Thievery?
Google enjoys keeping Apple and Microsoft lawyers busy. Andy Rubin is the horrific thief of the tech industry. Another round of lawsuits are coming!
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