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first_imgLast week Google and Samsung  decided to wait to announce their “next big thing”. The companies say that they will announce a new date and venue in due course, so hopefully the wait for the Nexus Prime/Galaxy Nexus, or whatever else the duo had planned, isn’t too long. In the meantime, the leaks for this device, internally called the Samsung Tuna, have been seeping through the woodwork. Unfortunately, none of the leaks can agree on the Nexus Prime specs, so we’re just going to focus on the updates to the Android Operating System. Here’s what we think of the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4.0.New Unlock ScreenIf you’ve used the lock screen on a Honeycomb tablet, the unlock screen is just a bubble that you drag outside of a ring. When the bubble reaches the ring, the device is unlocked. With ICS, you drag the bubble to an action, and the action will occur. For example, if you drag the bubble to the camera icon, the phone will unlock and the camera will launch. This isn’t a particularly new concept to Android, considering HTC’s Sense3.5 launcher offers similar functionality. In fact, the Sense 3.5 launcher allows for five different kinds of unlock actions on their lockscreen. Similarly designed in the new lockscreen for CyanogenMod 7.1, which allows for even deeper customization.Virtual buttonsLike Honeycomb tablets, the Samsung Tuna does not have any buttons on the face of the device. Instead, you find the digital buttons across the bottom of the screen. For devices like the upcoming Samsung Tuna, the screen size has been adjusted to support this new design. Most of the speculative reports of the Tuna say that it will have a 4.6″ screen. This drew some concern, especially among users who felt that 4.3-inch was pushing it. However, if you take into consideration that the screen will be longer to support the on screen buttons, the width of the device will change very little to support the 4.6-inch display.This doesn’t necessarily mean the death of soft buttons either, for those not pleased with the change. Devices that have soft keys will simply not display the digital buttons, keeping the rest of the user interface in tact. Like its predecessor, the Samsung Tuna is a device pushing new concepts to the market to see if anyone else will follow suit. With the Nexus S, that gamble was with a lack of removable storage and the addition of NFC, neither of which have caught on with any amount of significance in the past year.New LauncherAs a tech community, we spend a lot of time talking about how one group “stole” concepts from another. Most recently its been Apple and Google, but surprisingly the leaked images and videos of the Samsung Tuna have brought little outrage to Google’s move to essentially copy some critical features of their biggest supporters. One of the first things I do with many of my phones, if I find the launcher intolerable, is install a launcher replacement. The two biggest launcher replacements in the Android community are ADWLauncher and Launcher Pro. Typically I will choose ADW because it allows me to quickly set four apps of my choosing into the dock and allows me to move them, as well as the launcher icon itself, at will. Samsung implemented this on the original Galaxy Tab, promising to bring it to future versions of their TouchWiz UI. This functionality is now available in the stock launcher for Android 4.0, allowing you to place any four apps you choose in the dock.Another critical feature to the TouchWiz launcher, and one of the first to implement this as well, was a paginated launcher screen. Rather than flick your finger through an unending list of apps, the launcher allowed you to slide from left to right as you would in iOS. This paginated view was already seen in Android 3.0, nearly every Android tablet supporting this style of app navigation in the launcher. It comes as no surprise that an almost 3D variant on this paginated style launcher has shown up in Android 4.0.Final thoughtsThere’s likely to be dozens of new changes to the user experience, as well as features from Honeycomb. I’d expect to see things like USB Host mode, resizable widgets, and added functionality for NFC.  For a techy guy like me, these changes are exhilarating. I am thoroughly looking forward to the new experience. I have to wonder, however, how consumers who are not like me will respond. I’ve worked for companies where I’ve gotten angry phone calls for slightly adjusting the placement of the send button on a webmail program. This is a pretty significant, complete UI/UX overhaul, but will Google alienate users who just wanted a phone that had the internet on it by altering the experience so much?last_img