Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Galaxy Nexus, RAZR, PlayBook 2.0 come gunning for iPhone and iPad

Google unleashes Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Galaxy Nexus, Google unveils PlayBook 2.0

Busy day in tech yesterday, with Android Central running a never-ending live blog, covering everything from the new Motorola RAZR to the Galaxy Nexus, to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). If there's a common hardware thread to be had, it's that Android continues to spit out phones that are big, thin, and as wedged as an iPhone 5 rumor. The Galaxy Nexus in fact, with a 4.63 inch screen looks big enough for me to hollow out and use as an iPhone 4S case. Pretty much top-tier components all around, including innovative features like NFC beam for content sharing and facial recognition-based unlocking. The camera seems strangely weak, however, and Super AMOLED while bright and beautiful still doesn't seem as well balanced as LED.

As to RAZR, where's the flip? My old RAZR flipped. Just saying...

ICS seems to deliver on the promise of merging phone-bound Gingerbread to tablet-bound Honeycomb, creating a consistent UI that scales across the vast range of Android device sizes. It looks like they finally let Matias Duarte -- the designer of webOS who went over to Google -- loose to interesting effect. There's a new font, which clones Helvetica better than Microsoft's Arial ever did, and now looks very close the iPhone's current Helvetica Neue. It's also decidedly un-skeuomorphic, with flat, untextured regions that are deliberately unlike iOS. (We'll talk more about that on the next Iterate. The lack of clear differentiation between smaller screen phone and larger screen tablet apps could be either brilliant or baffling. We'll have to see.

Meanwhile over at BlackBerry DevCon 11, CrackBerry sat through the longest. Presentation. Ever. Seriously, it had an intermission. RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis hosted most of it, almost like Regis Filbin doing a gadget segment, but the technology they showed off was really impressive. Everything from the new QNX-based BBX operating system to the Torch-powered HTML5 engine to the TAT-driven new Cascade UI and framework elements show that while RIM did fall behind, they're investing heavily in getting ahead. The developer story remains a little overwhelming -- yes, there can be too many options -- but the focus on results seems better. Much of this will make it's way into BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0. Sadly, no new BBX superphones were so much as previewed. Yet.

With iOS 5 and iPhone 4S here, the competition isn't giving Apple any breathing room, and a ton of new devices are already hurtling towards us like a fleet of Star Destroyers.

Check out all the Android and BlackBerry coverage and then jump back here and tell us if any of it tempts you away from iOS.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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