Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is now official and it’s time to take a look at what the latest version of Android has to offer. ICS was first announced back in May during the Google I/O event and very little has been revealed about this device until now.

Features like multitasking, rich notifications, customizable home screens, resizable widgets and deep interactivity are the key elements in Android ICS and are better than they have ever been before.

New User Interface

The new user interface on Android 4.0 makes it easier than ever before to navigate through the actions and application you use most often. From the moment you unlock your device you are introduced into a whole new Android experience.

New virtual buttons allows users to navigate home, back or through their applications from wherever they are. This new area which is known as the System Bar can be accessed from all over the system, but can also be dimmed out by applications to make use of the ample full screen.

The Action Bar allows you to view the options for each application and can be found either at the top or the bottom of the screen.

Multitasking is another feature which has seen improvement in ICS. The open apps are displayed in a huge list like in Android Honeycomb and you can browse through and select the thumbnails to open a particular app.

Notifications have been improved in ICS and appear on the top with small screen devices and from the bottom on larger devices. You can keep track of your messages, playing tracks, real time app updates and much more from your notifications.

Home screen folders let you group your apps and shortcuts by dragging one onto the other. You can now also simply drag an app to get information from it or to uninstall it. Core apps can be disabled if you don't wish to view them.

Smaller devices will feature a favorites tray where users can drag and drop apps, shortcuts or folders for quick access from your homescreen.

ICS now offers resizable widgets which allow you to view live data and interact directly with your content. You can make the widgets larger to view more information or smaller to save space.

Improvements to the lockscreen allow you to directly access the camera, view notifications and even manage music tracks.

You can now quickly respond to an incoming call with a text message, without having to answer it. You can set a number of custom text messages under setting which you can access from the unlock screen.

ICS allows you to dismiss notifications you don’t want with a simple swipe. You can choose individually what you want to remove and get rid of it.

Text input and spell checking have improved allowing you to interact much faster with your device. You can quickly view your mistakes with the spell checker which offers suggestion, add to dictionary or delete options.

ICS also introduces powerful voice recognition which allows users to dictate messages and you can dictate them as long as you like.
An issue many users will face is with their limited data packages from the carriers. ICS allows you to control and manage data usage. Charts are available under settings showing your data usage by connection type or application. Users can set alerts to ensure they don’t go past their allotted amount.

Improvements in accessibility benefit blind or visually impaired users. The explore by touch mode allows users to navigate without having to look at the screen. Touching triggers audible feedback and the second touch triggers the event. The accessibility features can be enabled by a simple touch gesture (clockwise square from upper left) during setup.

Communication and Sharing

Social Networking is a big part of today’s world, and Android is keeping up by tightly integrating the latest social networking making ICS great at communicating and sharing with your friends and peers.

The People app is liked to their social network profiles and brings all the information from the internet into your user profiles, making it easy to stay updated with what your friends are doing. Your own profile will be stored under ‘Me’ and will store the information you need to connect to apps and friends.

The unified calendar brings all you calendars together. You can interact with swiping and pinch to zoom and you can share your events with others to contribute to them.

Visual voicemail been added to the phone app and it integrates incoming messages, voice transcripts and audio files from one or more providers. Third party apps can also integrate with the phone apps and offer the same.

The Camera app has undergone some big changes in ICS. You can now easily edit and share your photos from within your camera app. When taking photos features like continuous focus, zero shutter lag exposure and decreased shot-to-shot speed ensures you capture the best photos. Stabilized image zoom can be used in photos and videos and ensure you can capture at the level you want. The face detection feature sets focus based on the faces in the frame and you can also tap to focus on a particular item you want to capture.

Single-motion panorama allows you to capture with allows you to capture a large scenery without the need of image stitching.
Once you have captured you picture or video you can easily share it by email, text message, bluetooth, social network and more, directly from the camera app.

Photo Gallery widget

The Gallery app has been redesigned in ICS and offers easy ways to sort albums including by time, location, people and tags. A Photo editor has been included which allows you to rotate pictures, set levels, remove red eyes, add effects and more. Sharing is also possible from within the Gallery app.

The Photo Gallery Widget which can be added to your home-screen allows you to flick through your photos and select to view the one you like.

Video Live effects allows you to transform your videos by adding fun effects or backgrounds. You can even do this while shooting a video or using Google Talk.

ICS has finally brought screenshots to Android and you can quickly capture the screen by pressing power+ volume down buttons.

Web and the Cloud

Android 4.0 improves on the cloud connectivity features already available on Android with new browsing and email capabilities.
The new browser allows syncing bookmarks from Google Chrome. You can choose whether to display the mobile or desktop version of a particular site and even save it to view later. Users can zoom or change the default font size to improve readability.
EMail in ICS makes it easier to send, read and manage your emails. There is improved autocompletion to quickly get a list of recipients, support for nested email subfolders, and the ability to browse through multiple accounts in a neat and organized fashion. An email widget allows you to flick through your mail from the homescreen and like the other widgets, it can be re-sized to suite your need.

Innovative New Features
Android 4.0 is not just about improvements, but also about innovations. The new Android Beam and Face Unlock feature make interacting with your device so much easier and fun.

Android Beam is an NFC based sharing service and allows users to instantly share apps, contacts, music and video. All you need to do is tap your NFC enabled devices against each other and your data is transferred.

Face Unlock allows you to unlock your phone with facial recognition. You can use a backup PIN or pattern in case you cannot use your face to unlock your device.

For full details of the features available to users click here. If you want to see the improvements available to developers click here.

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