Launched last month, on Oct. 19, at a joint Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich event in Hong Kong, Android 4.0 – code name “Ice Cream Sandwich” (or simply Android ICS) merges the advantages of a smartphone operating system with the benefits of a tablet OS. Even more, it combines the features of Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) with the functionalities of Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), plus numerous updates (more exactly over 4000 updates).

Practically, Android ICS takes the best features from both worlds (smartphone and tablet) and combines them into a single OS, offering users a unique and remarkable experience. ICS includes an abundant array of improvements, compared to its predecessors, and also adds an important set of innovations. As the company has stated, Android 4.0 wants to: “Enchant me, Simplify My Life, and Make Me Awesome.”, and I have to admit that it sounds pretty good. But, let’s see what improvements Ice Cream Sandwich brings:

* Updated UI: notification bar and menu styles have been updated; widgets can now be re-sized; and instead of hard buttons (Home, menu, search, etc.), virtual buttons and system bars can be used across all applications; a big plus is that a camera button can be found on the lock screen;

* Improved organization and navigation: swiping left-right is available for page navigation; ICS comes with customizable home screens and the possibility to create and organize apps into folders just by using drag-drop; a favorites tray is available for small screen devices where users can drag folders, shortcuts, etc.;

* Extra camera features: native panorama functionality; possibility to share pics with 3rd part apps (which support Android PhotoShare); zoom-in while recording; more photo editing tools: cropping, red eye removal, etc.;

* Keyboard: ICS is packed with an improved spellchecker, error correction and word suggestion, providing a new set of default dictionaries

* Upgraded Gmail: the email service comes with a new edit bar for searching, offline searching (back to 30 days), composing, etc;

* Visual voicemail: capable of integrating messages from both the phone’s apps and 3rd parties applications

And a little more:

* Screenshots are here: users can now take screenshots by pressing in the same time the Power and Home buttons

* Face unlock: no more codes, ICS unlocks your smartphone/tablet via facial recognition (this can be a tricky feature, imagine what happens if it doesn’t)

* Quick answer: if you are too busy to answer a call, ICS allows you to send a template text in response

* Cut/copy/paste: comes with animated dragging and dropping.

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Friday, Feb 3, 2023