Samsung Details Ice Cream Sandwich Updates for Smartphones, Tablets

Samsung is saving its Android users the suspense of wondering if their Ice Cream Sandwich update is coming soon. It’s offered a list of devices, by carrier, that are up next. (Sorry, T-Mobile users.)

News has dribbled out about which Android smartphones will receive the update to Ice Cream Sandwich, as version 4.0 is known. But Samsung, at least, has come clean, posting a list of its devices and carrier partners that will soon be receiving the update.

T-Mobile subscribers, alas, have the least-sweet deal, with Samsung announcing that while it is in €œclose communication with T-Mobile to ensure that eligible devices are upgraded €¦ in the coming months,€ it actually has no news to share at this time.

Over at AT&T, however, users of the following devices and models can be assured that ICS is on its way:

--Galaxy S II (SGH-i777)
--Galaxy S Skyrocket (SGH-i727)
--Galaxy Note (SH-i717)
--Captivate Glide (SGH-i927)
--Nexus S (SGH-i9020A)
--Galaxy Tab 8.9 (SGH-i957

For Sprint subscribers with a Nexus S 4G (SPH-d720), the update is available immediately, though Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch owners (SPH-d710) will have to be a little more patient.

Verizon Galaxy Tab 10.1 (SCH-i905) and Galaxy Tab 7.7 (SCH-i815) owners will need to do the same, as will owners of these WiFi-only tablets:

--Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus WiFi (P6210)
--Galaxy Tab 8.9 WiFi (P7310)
--Galaxy Tab 10.1 WiFi (P7510)

With Ice Cream Sandwich, Google says it has evolved the user interface, refining animations, making it simpler to navigate and even updating the fonts, to make it all feel more modern.

The home screen has also been changed, to include folders that users can drag apps and shortcuts to, bringing together items that it makes sense to group, while on devices with smaller screens, ICS will include a customizable favorites €œtray,€ which will similarly hold items that users want quick access to.

There€™s also a new emphasis on widgets, which are resizable and let users do things like check email, social streams, their calendars or even play music, without launching an application. Also included are more capabilities that can be performed without unlocking the screen€”things like listening to music or accessing the camera€”and quicker ways to manage notifications.

Even seemingly straightforward aspects, like phone calls, have been improved on, with users able to respond to a call through text messaging, without picking up. Better still, things that could definitely use some improvement€”like the soft keyboard€”are now better than ever.

€œError correction and word suggestion are improved through a new set of default dictionaries and more accurate heuristics for handling cases, such as double-typed characters, skipped letters and omitted spaces,€ reports €œWord suggestion is also improved and the suggestion strip is simplified to show only three words at a time.€

The list goes on. There€™s an €œopen microphone€ that can be used for voice dictation, management controls to make sure you don€™t exceed your data plan (or at least know if you€™re going to), new features for seeing-impaired users, and a People app that makes smart connections between contact information, status updates, photos and other information relevant to the people in one€™s network. Visual voice mail is included, and so are improvements to the calendar, the camera, and the photo and video editors.

Web browsing is said to be €œas rich and convenient as a desktop browser,€ with users able to sync and manage bookmarks in Chrome, and email€”whether personal or securely supported enterprise addresses€”has been made easier to read, manage and send, says Google.

Finally, you can use your face to unlock your ICS-running phone; there€™s support for WiFi Direct€”which lets you connect to a nearby device over a WiFi network€”and also on board is Android Beam, which lets devices with near-field communication (NFC) capability interact and exchange things like apps, songs, music and just about anything else.

On the whole, it suddenly seems a bummer to be a T-Mobile subscriber with an Android-running Samsung phone.