So after the great people at cyanogenmod releasing their first alpha build of Android 4, ice cream sandwich, I flashed it onto my touchpad at the first chance I got. After spending a while with cm7, 2.3.7, on both my phone and tablet, it was painfully clear that Google never intended it to be on a tablet, but it was bearable, and I was starting to get used to it. The alpha build of cm9 had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, the cm team were able to allowing upgrading without loosing any data, which was handy as I had got pretty far on some games. From was flashed, and it started booting!
At first the screen was very different to gingerbread. No more adw launcher. No more drop down notifications. No more horrible interface that was designed to be used on a small phone, not the glorious screen of a touchpad! But the screen is still so user friendly. Cyanogens own launcher, trebuchet, makes the first user experience a welcoming site. With ICS not being on many tablets, I haven’t been able to compare it to Google’s own launcher, but I have used ics on a phone. And the launcher was pretty ugly. This looks good. No awkward icons a cross the bottom of the screen, and no Google search bar taking up the top of every home screen. Instead there is a nice menu button on the top right, with an equally nice search icon on the top left. The search bar is split into text and voice search, which is very well laid out. The notification bar is now on the bottom of the screen, and is so easy to use.
The menu now includes all your Widgets, and you can’t long press on the desktop to add one. This seems very different at first, but after a few days of use I like it more. It is easier to se all your Widgets and it is now very easy to add them to the desktop.
The other major improvement is the Google apps. After flashing the latest package from xda forums, I was greeted to a nice screen asking me to add my Google account. Pretty standard stuff. But now, as if just by magic, all the wonderful Google apps were in my menu, and syncing! The Gmail app, while it works well, looks awful on a gingerbread phone, never mind a gingerbread tablet. But this app is stunning. All your mailboxes in a panel on the left, with the messages in the box on the right. Open a message, and the mailboxes slide off to the left, bringing the message into the big panel. It is very similar to the way the mailbox in webos worked. It is awesome. The same goes for the Calender app. Another massive improvement over the gingerbread version of the app. It is well laid out and very easy to navigate, add events to and search. A joy to use. I think I will do another write up about them, and my two new favourite apps, current and the new music.
Aside from the bugs in cm9, and still the lack of complete hardware compatability, which I hope can be fixed either through HP releasing the kernel source, or porting from another device, ICS and cm9 are looking great. Easy to use, but best of all it is enjoyable to use. So much so I typed this on my touchpad. The laptops days are numbered. At least of basic tasks…