We’ve already seen Android 4.0, also known as the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Google’s mobile platform, on a mobile phone, but not on tablets. On Tuesday, Google’s revamp of the Android platform was finally shown off, albeit briefly, in a video. The ASUS Transformer Prime tablet, powered by Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 chip, seems to be running silky-smooth in this first look.
Although I welcome faster, more capable processors in any mobile device, I shared some skepticism when Nvidia debuted the Tegra 3 chip last month. Why? Because hardware isn’t the core reason Apple’s iPad is outselling all other Android tablets combined by several magnitudes. Some Android tablets have faster chips, more memory, or expansion options than the iPad. It doesn’t matter though; the user experience and ecosystem are just as important as specs, if not more so.
Having said that, I like what I see in Android 4.0 so far, especially when it’s running on a chip with four processing cores and a dozen graphics cores. The Tegra 3 chip appears to be a screamer, which doesn’t hurt. Combine that with the user interface improvements in Android 4.0, and the Transformer Prime — not to mention other Tegra 3 tablets I expect to see at January’s Consumer Electronics Show — should give Android tablet sales a needed boost.
The battle between those slates and the iPad is far from over, but Tegra 3 paired with Android 4.0 gives Google tablets a better chance to put up a fight.