My dislike of ICS is no secret, and my phone is running – and will continue to run – Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The reasons for that are many, and they’re all my own, personal, subjective reasons.
First off, ICS breaks compatibility with a number features, some of which I rely on daily. As an example, Unlock With WiFi doesn’t work with pattern locks in ICS, yet it works perfectly in Gingerbread. I don’t know why, and I frankly don’t give a rat’s ass, as it’s an app I love and will not be without. I should also note that I also ran into ICS compatibility issues with the LiveView, and while I haven’t kept notes, I’ve seen ICS compatibility issues with other apps I use in change logs for the last half year as well.
Then you have the UI changes. The menu button is being phased out, and this is much more prominent in ICS. I can’t stand the new menu bar, as it’s just a pointless way to use more screen real-estate. That seems to be Google’s new plan though, at least if you’re judging by those on-screen buttons which are on so many devices now. You guess right, I’m not a fan of those either. Touch screens are great because they allow you to have dynamic buttons that are there only when you need them, and give you a bigger screen to use when you don’t. Having permanent on-screen buttons takes away part of that screen real-estate and dedicates it to displaying buttons, which is basically the exact opposite of the advantage of touch screens. That menu bar is the second stage of a race in the wrong direction if you ask me, and I’m afraid to think where the finish line for that race is.
Despite all of this, my tablet is now on ICS. Why? Well, I don’t use my tablet that much, and I figured it would be good to see if my hatred for ICS would still be present after I got a device running it. Oh yes, it is, and to a larger degree than before.
The first thing that happened after I booted into ICS was that Unlock With WiFi popped up a dialog box, asking me to enable device administrator access for it and switch to a PIN code. I was expecting that to happen, so I just uninstalled the entire app – I don’t use my tablet enough for it to matter that much (unlike my phone).
Then I noticed a couple of blue lines across the screen in ADW Launcher EX. Apparently this has to do with the new menu bar and how ADW Launcher hasn’t been updated to handle it properly. Apps being abandoned by developers and left incompatible with never OS versions is not a new thing, and you wouldn’t be wrong to blame the developer. I still can’t help to think though that a launcher that has worked perfectly fine for me on two major Android versions is left unusable in ICS because of a UI change that I don’t even want. Therein lies my core gripe with ICS.
To me, ICS is not an upgrade in any way that matters to me. They changed the UI, made it faster (yes, it is noticeably faster on my Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus), and stole some third party app ideas and integrated them in the OS. Aside from the bit about being faster, I don’t care about any of that. What I care about is being able to use the apps I use on Gingerbread on ICS, which I can’t. In some cases it’s the app developer that has thrown in the towel, in other cases it’s changes to the OS that makes it impossible to do things you could once do. Bottom line, I wouldn’t call it an upgrade – not for me personally. A 2012 Porsche isn’t an upgrade over an old ice cream truck if you’re an ice cream seller.
I’m well aware that ICS is generally well liked, and I guess that’s all that matters in the grand scheme of things. I still have my Gingerbread phone, and even if I get a new phone at some point, there are enough Android-exclusive feature to keep me on Android, at least for now.