Google's Android Ice Cream Sandwich Coming Nov. 17

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Samsung Electronics will begin shipping its new Galaxy Nexus Android smartphone Nov. 17. The device is the first to run Google's (NAS: GOOG) long-awaited Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich") operating system overhaul, formally unveiled earlier this month. 

A Samsung Mobile tweet confirms the manufacturer will begin rolling out the Galaxy Nexus to European consumers on Nov. 17. Mashable reports the smartphone is slated for a November release in the U.S., Canada and Asia as well.

Android 4.0 delivers the tablet-optimized innovations introduced in Google's Android 3.0 Honeycomb update to all devices in an effort to reduce platform fragmentation. Google first confirmed Ice Cream Sandwich's forthcoming launch during its annual I/O developer conference in May. The company promised, at that time, that moving forward, the same version of Android will run across all devices, regardless of screen size.

Highlights of Android 4.0 include an evolved user interface making common actions more visible, enabling users to navigate using simplified, more intuitive gestures. A new typeface optimized for high-resolution screens touts enhanced readability and new animations and feedback support for more compelling interactions. Android 4.0 also touts new System Bar virtual buttons bringing instant navigation to Back, Home and Recent Apps, as well as more visual multitasking and more interactive notifications.

The laundry list of new and enhanced Android 4.0 features additionally includes resizable widgets, new lock screen actions, one-touch swiping to dismiss notifications, tasks and browser tabs, improved text input and spell-checking and a new voice input engine offering a continuous "open microphone" experience and streaming voice recognition. In conjunction with all the new features, Google is also introducing new controls for managing network data usage, simplifying life for consumers on tiered or metered data plans.

Android dominates 43.7 percent of the U.S. smartphone market according to data issued earlier this month by research firm comScore. Android-powered tablets lag far behind Apple's (NAS: AAPL) pacesetting iPad, however: Researcher IDC reports that Apple's iOS commands 68.3 percent of the worldwide tablet market as of the second quarter of 2011, with Android trailing at 26.8 percent.

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