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Saturday, 7 January 2012

Upgrading a Nexus S to Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

There's been major excitement (albeit very localised excitement) in this house following the news that Nexus S phones would be automatically upgraded to Android 4. However, as the days turned into weeks I began to wonder if I should ignore my phone provider and do the install myself.

I almost went ahead with it over the Xmas holiday, but news reports about Google suspending the process because of unspecified problems made me back off. Yesterday I cracked.

The process was very simple, and took less then ten minutes. I followed these instructions here. There were no incidents, although I would advise you to read all the instructions before setting out. (I have nobody to blame that I didn't read the words "when you see the warning triangle" before I actually saw the warning triangle.)

What's Android 4 like? Well, the Look & Feel of the UI has improved, and it looks like I no longer need a couple of apps because Android now does the job for me. The default Camera app is much better, and there are several other enhancements. Nothing earth-shattering, but perhaps I haven't yet found all the changes. (I only a couple of hours ago found that I can dismiss individual notifications by swiping over them from right to left.)

Now for the downside: I have encountered three problems since I upgraded.

Most worryingly, last night for the first time ever the screen stopped responding to touch. I tried to power it off, but of course couldn't confirm the action. Then, when I pressed the power button to turn off the display, it was still faintly visible. After a few cycles the phone started responding again, so I quickly powered it off fully before it changed its mind. It hasn't done it again since I switched it back on.

Secondly, I've had notifications that Google+ has stopped. Google+ seems to be built-in, because you can't uninstall it. I disabled it instead, in case it's behind the first problem.

Finally, I've twice been told today that my phone provider is unavailable. To be fair this does happen, but not often, so I mention it here for the sake of completeness.

All in all, I do like the new look, but it may take a few days before my confidence in the phone's reliability is fully restored.