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Friday, 13 April 2012

Ice-cream sandwich for galaxy SII:Review

About two months ago, I shared my thoughts on an Android ROM I really like, MIUI. Judging by the comments, quite a few readers liked that review… so today, I am back with an even more cutting-edge ROM: Resurrection Remix 9.6, based on Android 4.0.3 ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich).
Up until very recently, ICS was only available for users lucky enough to own a Samsung Nexus S. Now, more and more Ice Cream Sandwich ROMs are popping up, and I have finally decided to take the plunge and install ICS on my own device.
This is not an installation guide: Just like with MIUI, you are on your own here — the procedure is well explained in the forum post, and I would hate to see you brick your device because of something I mistyped. That said, it took me about five minutes to install this ROM on my device, so you should be fine. Now, let me show you around!

First of all, and this is pretty disappointing, the launcher in this ROM is not the stock ICS launcher. But it is a very close cousin of it: It’s called Nova Launcher, it’s basic version is free, and it basically looks like an identical twin of the ICS launcher. It requires Android 4.0 and up, so it would only be useful as an alternative launcher if you already have ICS.

Above you can see me dragging the bookmarks widget onto a home screen. You can see the other screen peeping from the left edge, just like in the native launcher. Animations are very fluid. It’s a cool launcher, but you don’t need this specific ROM to use it.

The stock browser rocks. Above you can see its tabbed interface – tabs are actually large thumbnails. Did you notice the Google thumbnail is off to the side, and slightly transparent? That’s because I wanted to show you a cool gesture introduced in ICS: You can swipe these thumbnails off to the side to close them.
Last Used Apps

Long-pressing the Home button brings up a list of recently used apps. This same gesture works in older Android versions – but wow, what a difference in the interface. Above you can see the same thumbnail-style control, now used to show the list of recently used apps. To switch to an app, just tap its thumbnail. You can also unload an app instantly just by swiping it to the side. And if you want more fine-grained control, the Task Manager is just a single tap away. This is an amazing improvement, really.

The built-in keyboard is available in a wide selection of languages, and uses predictive logic to try and guess what your next word is going to be – just like the Swiftkey X keyboard. Another cool change is the keyboard control interface, which now looks like this:

And yes – this particular ROM also includes Swype, which is a nice touch. Google voice typing, however, is pretty horrible. It’s really not up to par with FlexT9, the golden standard for dictation on Android (at least as far as I can see).

What you’re seeing above is the dialer mid-swipe. Like many other native ICS apps, the dialer responds incredibly smoothly to swiping. The only problem I’ve had with it so far is that even though I’ve enabled T9 dialing, it still doesn’t really work. Meaning, I start typing a contact’s name using the dial pad, but their number doesn’t come up. Aesthetically, though, it is absolutely beautiful.

Above you can see the About Phone screen from the Settings app, with the exact ROM version I’m using. The Settings app itself contains some surprising (and useful) entries, especially in the Developer Options section:

Above you can see the Show CPU Usage option in action. This option puts an overlay of currently CPU use and processes on the top-right corner of the screen, so you can see what’s hogging up the CPU. There are simpler ways to do this (like the aforementioned Task Manager), but this is still pretty fun.


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