Monday, February 6, 2012

Motorola Xoom gets Ice Cream Sandwich- Reviewed

Ice Cream Sandwich Android with Motorola Xoom, tasty.
I bought the Motorola Xoom for its computer-like guts and the flexible Android OS.  Ever since I have purchased the tablet I have received a couple Android OS updates, which were fairly "under the radar" in terms of new features and functionality.  Recently, we as collective Xoom owners received the Ice Cream Sandwich Android 4.0.3 update (well, at least the Wi-Fi Only owners did).  Below I will give you my thoughts on some of the new features and tools.  Did I mention you get a new boot animation?  Goodbye, Honeycomb.  Hello, Ice Cream Sandwich!

What is New for the Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3. Motorola Xoom
At first you notice the snappiness of the tablet, it seems to move faster between work spaces and the apps seem to render faster (after you update all of them in the Android Marketplace).  The font is a little different on the tablet now and they even moved the keys around on the screen unlock, which can get some getting used to if you are using a number combination to unlock your tablet. By the way, if you are not using a stylus on your Xoom it is pretty easy to hold the tablet up to the light and see the pattern that your fingers leave to unveil your "unlock" pattern. The new Android 4.0.3 update even gives you some new but not so exciting Ice Cream Sandwich wallpapers (no ICS Android character wallpapers), and even some that are "live" wallpapers. 

Live Video Chat on Xoom (Skype)
I am not sure if the Android update had anything to do with the Skype update, but anyway you can now enjoy live video chatting via Skype on the Xoom.  I had an hour long chat this weekend (I was on the Xoom and my friend on his new Samsung Galaxy 8.9" tablet).  The quality was good and the Xoom's front facing camera performed well in even low light conditions.  After an hour of Skyping the Xoom's battery icon was barely depleted, which surprised me copnsidering the power to the camera, speakers, and screen were on for more than an hour.

Micro SD slot now available for Xoom
Apparently the micro SD slot is now operational.  I remember being frustrated last summer as I was modding an Elocity A7 tablet. What a pain it was not to throw Dexter's mod on the Elocity's micro SD from the Xoom's micro SD slot (it was dead then), instead I had to find a card converter and then stick it in a laptop and so on.  I do not have any storage issues right now on the Xoom but with the Micro SD slot now functional you can store more media or stick in a Credit Card swiper and charge customers right from your tablet.

Xoom to have better browser after Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS)?- Not Really 
Remember to go to the Android marketplace and have all of your apps updated after you run the 4.0.3. update.  So far, it doesn't matter which browser you are using they all have bugs.  The Dolphin HD browser was my favorite browser pre ICS, now it force closes and I have deleted it off my device. 

The Chrome browser used to be a workhorse but now has issues with flash and the Mozilla tablet browser has issues with flash videos too, though even worse than the Chrome. 

One hugely annoying thing is still to be treated by the web as a mobile device and not being given the option of viewing the full site for some websites ( among others view all mobile as mobile and diverts users to a stripped down mobile website with no option to view the full site- they are not the only ones).  Hey web developers out there, "My Screen is 10", give me the option of viewing the full desktop version of your site!".

Google's Voice to Text on Ice Cream Sandwich
One really nice feature is the new voice to text option within Gmail, SMS, and other apps on which you can type.  You must use the default Android keyboard, as I was using a split 3rd party keyboard app and it does not feature the microphone button.  The quality is on par with the popular voice to text applications like Dragon Naturally Speaking and it is easy to use (and it is free).  Even with a lot of background noise the voice to text and voice search features work amazingly well (Xoom as well as other Android devices).

*Information contained within these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Schreiner University.

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