Ice Cream Sandwich-run Nexus to rival Apple

Date:2011-10-20hanyue  Text Size:

GOOGLE Inc unveiled the first device running the new version of its Android software, stepping up competition with Apple Inc and seeking to win over developers by making it easier to write programs that run on both phones and tablets.

The new Android, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich, was unveiled at a joint event with Samsung Electronics Co in Hong Kong yesterday, less than a week after Apple started selling the iPhone 4S, the smartphone that set a sales record of more than 4 million units in three days.

The latest Android incarnation pitches facial recognition programs that enhance security and photo sorting. With the update, Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page aims to boost mobile-advertising sales and give customers an alternative to Apple's iOS software, which runs iPhones and iPads. At stake is dominance in the US$207 billion mobile-phone market, where iPhone is the top-selling device and Android is the most-used software.

"Ice Cream Sandwich could provide the critical push in the race to catch Apple," said Mark Newman, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co in Hong Kong. "Apple's software is still on the cutting edge."

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus runs Ice Cream Sandwich, Matias Duarte, Google's senior director, told reporters in Hong Kong. Samsung will start sales next month. No price was disclosed.

Other features of Ice Cream Sandwich include Android Beam, which lets users quickly share web pages, apps and YouTube videos, improved multi-tasking, and an upgraded voice technology that converts dictation into text.

Putting the same operating system in phones and tablets, a break from the past where different devices ran separate software, may spawn more applications on the Android platform.

"Users of Android tablets have had fewer applications to choose from, compared with Apple," said Lu Chia-lin, an analyst at Samsung Securities Asia in Hong Kong. "Making an operating system for both smartphones and tablets will help Google close the gap."

Earlier this month, Apple said there are more than 500,000 applications in the company's App Store. Firestone said the Android Market had more than 200,000 apps as of May 10.

The most recent iteration of Apple's mobile software drew positive reviews for its new voice-recognition software, faster processing speed and improved picture-taking ability. The availability of new features helped Apple's sales of iPhone 4S reach a record in its first days on the market.


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