The latest version of Android has been pushed to open source by Google yesterday, and today it has started rolling out to some devices.
We’re talking about Android 4.0.4. This is still called Ice Cream Sandwich, and, as the small version number change may imply, is a minor update. In that it doesn’t bring any new features. That said, expect to see much improved performance when using this build, as Google has supposedly ironed out all the kinks in ICS. Or many of them, anyway.
You can expect “stability improvements, better camera performance, smoother screen rotation, improved phone number recognition and more”, according to Google. The company says there are more than 100 changes in this version. A 4.0.4 build (which was clearly a work in progress) was leaked a couple of months ago for the Nexus S 4G, and some custom ROMs have so far been taking advantage of the bits found in that version.
Now, however, it’s all official. The HSPA+ version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (pictured above), the HSPA/GSM version of the Samsung Nexus S, and the Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi units sold in the US are the first devices to be receiving the update to Android 4.0.4. The rollout has started today, and may take a while to complete.
For some owners of the Samsung Nexus S, this will be the first taste of ICS. That’s because while a previous iteration, Android 4.0.3, managed to make it to many Nexus S units, that particular rollout was abruptly stopped at one point and many Nexus S owners have been stuck on Gingerbread all this time. That’s sad, but will be rectified in a few days at most.
Google didn’t say a word about when the Nexus S 4G for Sprint or the LTE-capable Galaxy Nexus for Verizon will be updated. We’re guessing that has something to do with carrier testing and such. Still, those handsets will probably end up running 4.0.4 well before most of the other phones sold by America’s biggest CDMA carriers, so no reason to become angry for needing to wait a little bit more. At least not yet.
As for the Motorola Xoom situation, that particular tablet counts as a Google Experience Device (GED), but only the Wi-Fi-only units sold in the US. Being a GED is apparently akin to being a Nexus device, at least with regard to how fast you get software updates. Those aren’t being touched by Motorola and are being issued directly by Google, whereas the Xooms sold elsewhere in the world (or those purchased from carriers) aren’t GEDs, and thus Moto will fiddle with the bits before sending the updates to you.