The Asus Transformer Prime originally launched with Android 3.2 Honeycomb back in December of last year and was then one of the first devices to get upgraded to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. This makes Asus one of the best manufacturers of Android devices when it comes to software updates. In fact, as soon as the initial setup was complete it was already downloading a firmware update for me.
Asus has not messed that with the Primes user interface. All they have added to the stock Android experience is some of their own useful widgets (see above) and a tab for some Asus customised settings.
A lockscreen is a lockscreen, and unlike what HTC does on their Sense skin the lockscreen serves no real productive purpose other than being a layer of security.
By default the lockscreen security termed as slide is enabled, which enables you to quickly unlock the Prime or launch the camera application. You can also disable lockscreen security entirely or use a pattern, PIN or password to secure your tablet.
You are able to encrypt all of your data using a numeric PIN or password, which you’ll need to enter on start up to unencrypt your data. Forget this and you’ll have to wipe every piece of data on the tablet.
The notification overlay can be accessed from the lockscreen now, something that is new in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and is a big step forward.
Once your top of the line tablet has been unlocked you are presented with five homepages, each of which has a 8 by 7 grid to hold all of your favourite widgets and application shortcuts. You cannot add more, or take away homescreens.
The series of dots in the top right corner takes you to the application drawer. Part of me wishes there was a way that could allow you to access the application drawer from where the rest of the Android navigation buttons are – permanently in the bottom left of the display.
The other functions found in the bottom left corner are the back, home and multitasking buttons. The multitasking button will bring up a transparent overlay to quickly resume recent applications. Swiping the individual tiles left or right will close the applications. A application specific menu does appear when the application has not been updated for Android 4.0’s new button scheme.
The bottom right corner is home to quick notification thumbnails, the time, connectivity logos and a battery bar.
This lower status bar area does not disappear at all, at any time. Although you can enable a lock on it so you won’t accidentally tap the home button when trying to play Angry Birds. When watching videos or pictures it does fade out slightly but true a true full screen ability is not present.
Tapping on this area will display an extended overlay that Asus has modified to include some of their own settings such as Super IPS+ mode, auto brightness and rotate toggles. There are also toggles for Asus’ modified power profiles for the Tegra 3 chipset – power saving, balanced and performance.
On top of this is the usual notification, time and date and battery percentage information.
An application drawer is exactly that and there is not much more to it than that. Under Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich there are two tabs you can choose from; apps and widgets.
Apps displays all installed applications in alphabetical order. There is no option to view your downloaded applications but it really didn’t bother me personally. Long tapping an application will allow you to add a shortcut to one of your homescreens. Depending on whether you installed the app yourself or not, it will give you the option to uninstall it without having to go deep into the application settings.
The widgets tab will display all of the installed widgets in alphabetical order, a long press of one will allow you to add it to one of your homescreens, given there is enough space. There is also the link to the the Google Play Store in the top right corner.