Here's the thing about the Galaxy Nexus: It is the best Android phone available now by such a huge margin that I am prepared to say that shoppers should either buy it or steer clear of Android entirely. And that has nothing to do with its hardware.
I am putting forth a call to arms: Let us not care so much about hardware, Android friends. Let us not pay mind to mobile processor clock speed, to millimeters of body thickness, to HDMI-out ports and docking stations and removable batteries. The Galaxy Nexus is the best Android phone because its software was designed for humans. More than any other 'Droid previous, using the Galaxy Nexus just makes sense. And for that we can thank its stock install of something called Ice Cream Sandwich.
Buried in the avalanche of features in the newest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, was the addition of a new sensor to accompany the standard GPS, proximity, and accelerometer: a barometer. It's one we'd never have thought to add to a smartphone, and we sat for a little while, scratching our heads at the possible use for a sensor that tests atmospheric pressure.
Last night, Google introduced the newest version of Android, to be called Ice Cream Sandwich. It's easily the biggest update to Android in years, combining elements of the tablet-only Honeycomb with a whole bunch of new ideas, and a firm focus on cohesion--a major complaint about Android. Google also showed off the new Samsung-made Nexus flagship phone, and it is a monster: a 4.65-inch screen in full 720p resolution, and no buttons at all.
At this year's Google I/O, a developer-focused conference in which Google has lately been announcing news about Android, we got an encouraging glimpse at Android's future, in both tablets and smartphones. The announcements were both immediately gratifying and solid in the long-term--for most Android users, there are new toys to play with right now. And in the long term, Android looks healthier than ever. Here are the highlights, and why they're important.