Ice Cream Sandwich on the Nexus S

Within a day of Google announcing Ice Cream Sandwich for the Nexus S, I ordered one specifically for development and testing of apps on ICS handsets. Unfortunately, a few days later Google 'paused' the update as a result of issues being reported by early users who had received it. After nearly two months of waiting without any news on when it would resume, it was time to start looking for an alternative.

Fortunately the Android community, as always, remains active and there are now multiple options for getting ICS running on various devices including the Nexus S. After a bit of looking around, I settled on Kustom Kream which looks like a fairly vanilla ROM that runs on the AT&T version of the Nexus S, the 9020A.

While there are a couple of modifications included in the distribution and it is rooted, from a UI standpoint you really can't see a difference. As a result, I am now able to do some on-device app testing on ICS and ship needed updates for existing apps as well as continuing work on new apps.

I've only run into a couple of issues that appear to be related to my development usage which may not be specific to the Kustom Kream ROM (hard to say since it's not yet possible to run ICS 100% stock on the 9020A):

  1. USB debugging occasionally goes offline making the device unable to communicate via DDMS. A simple workaround is to unplug the device, turn USB debugging off and then back on, and plug the device back in.
  2. A couple of times the device has frozen (i.e. become completely unresponsive even to a long press of the power button) and I've had to pull the battery. With the battery back in, the device powers back up and operates as expected.

Given the combination of the issues above, one thing I've been trying to either narrow down or avoid these issues is to simply turn off USB debugging (by unchecking Settings->Developer options->USB debugging) when I won't need to connect via DDMS for a while. So far, I haven't experienced either issue since I started doing this.

As far as the main issues that seemed to be the cause of the pause of the official rollout, other than experiencing somewhat reduced battery run time, I don't seem to be having the more acute problems others have reported. But your mileage may vary... if these were simple problems to solve Google would have already fixed them and resumed the update on the Nexus S.

At some point, Google will resolve the outstanding issues and resume their ICS rollout for the Nexus S and I'll restore mine to stock and go with the OTA update. This is my preference since I want to match the environment that the average user is running on most of my devices. Until then, I'm happy to be able to get things done thanks to the Android community and resources like XDA.

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