Finally the Galaxy Note got its long awaited Ice Cream Sandwich update. Long awaited because Samsung first announced that ICS for Note will start rolling out on Q1 of 2012, but it didn’t until May. According to several Galaxy Note forums the update first appeared in several Eurpoean countries. And now it’s here in Sri Lanka. The update came on 31st of May, so I’ve been using it for about 10 days.
How is ICS on the Note? Impressive if you ask me, but not without some issues. I’ll be just listing some stuff I found out to be quite handy below; it’s not possible to explain everything in detail. Also, some of them might be subjective.
Look and feel
As most of you might have seen or experienced, the ICS interface has gone through a massive overhaul. Frankly, it’s fun to do stuff and see the beautiful menus come out. Most pre-installed apps come with major UI improvements. Sadly, TouchWiz (the stock launcher of Samsung) is pretty much the same as it was in Gingerbread. In fact, you can’t get the real ICS experience with TouchWiz. Dumped it and started using the ICS-only Apex Launcher which is pretty cool.
Home screen (Apex Launcher)
Google Play + search menu + Swiftkey 3 beta keyboard
The new notification system is elegant. The most useful feature I found is that you can discard individual notifications by swiping them. Can’t imagine how I used to live without this.
The call log’s less cluttered and is bundled with more useful info. It’s possilbe to reject calls with preset messages using two taps. Switching between calls is now easier.
There are lots more new functionality/enhancements besides these. Multitasking’s been improved in leaps and bounds. The task switcher is completely revamped. It displays large thumbnails, gives you access to a long history and you can remove items by swiping. No need for third-party apps for recording data usage anymore. You can take screenshots without rooting, but Galaxy Note had this ability since the beginning. There’s a Face Unlock feature I’m yet to try out. Action bars are natively supported now. ICS-only apps are coming up, like Chrome for Android. And several new launchers, twitter apps, etc require you have ICS. The list goes on.
During the first day after the upgrade things appeared pretty slow. A few restarts solved most of the problems but there are still a few noticeable lags present.
Battery life doesn’t seem to have increased as promised. It wouldn’t last a day sometimes. Forums indicated that this is a common issue and most have solved this by running down the battery and recharging fully a couple of times. Actually I did this when I first bought the Note and it improved the battery life substantially. Going to repeat the process in the coming week.
My biggest gripe is the frequent crashing of the launcher. By frequent I mean several times a day. Then I moved back to TouchWiz and found out the issue isn’t present there. A problem with Apex Launcher apparently. Rather, a problem with Apex Launcher on Note. I’m hoping some updates would come out soon and fix the problems.
How do I get the upgrade?
Connect the phone to the PC and start Kies. A notification will pop up saying you’ve got a new update! The process took more than an hour in my case. Note that some settings like the home screen and the app drawer will reset during the upgrade.
Also, I rooted the Note after the ICS upgrade. That would be another post perhaps.