So, the entire wait was worthwhile at last it seems! Going by the specifications, Android's latest avatar, the Ice Cream Sandwich promises to be tasty. The latest revision also unites the best of Gingerbread and Honeycomb and fulfills the vision or creating a unified operating system for both the tablets as well as smartphones, in addition to 29 other major improvements. Here, we have listed 12 major ones for you to see what to expect from Android v4 ICS.
New virtual buttons instead of capacitive controls
The first thing you are going to notice in handsets designed for Ice Cream Sandwich is the absence of physical capacitive Back, Home, Menu and Search buttons. These buttons have been replaced with a new integrated system bar at the bottom of the screen with three permanent virtual buttons – Back, Home and Recent Apps.
Enhanced speed and performance
Speed is what that matters in the age of HD games and high end applications. Hence, to take full advantage of high end dual core processors and complement it fully, the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich comes optimized for multi-core processors.
Data management tool
A cool new addition, Android 4.0 also comes packed with a built-in app that lets you keep a tab on your data consumption, allowing you to set download limits to save you costly overcharges
Integrated screenshot capture
Now this was something which was sorely missed until now. But better late than never! With Ice Cream Sandwich, you can capture screenshot of your device with ease. Just press the power and volume down button to capture screenshot of your phone’s screen. Easy eh?
This addition comes with the merger of Android Honeycomb and Gingerbread versions. Left with one single OS to run both tablets and smartphones, it was imperative for Android to come up with such a feature to optimise icon size according to the screen size. Sounds good if you want to save some display real estate!
Better voice integration
With Siri becoming a rage and main driving force behind continued sales of Apple’iPhone 4S, Android was in threat of being left behind in this vital arena. Hence, with ICS, Android has added real-time voice processing feature called Instant Voice. Expect delays no more as all the chores of sending voice data to cloud servers and displaying the processed results done away with. Now you just need to press the button and text starts flowing on your screen like magic! Things may get even better with the launch of Google’s own Mejel personal voice assistant for Android devices sometime early next year.
Face Unlock feature
Another security addition after introduction of pattern lock, the face unlock feature adds another convenient way of unlocking your device. After all, there can’t be an easier way of unlocking you phone than staring at it anyway! The lock can be set up by going to security tab in settings menu.
New web browser, no Flash
Web browser has also been revamped significantly and now supports up to 16 browser tabs at once. You can also set up sync with your Google Chrome browser to import your bookmarks on your Android device. However, Flash is not supported until now but an update for the same should be available soon. ICS is expected to be the last major Android version to support Flash and developer websites are abuzz with rumours that Android 5.0, called Jelly Bean for now would ship without Flash and won’t be supporting it anyway.
Modern Roboto font
With ICS update, Google has also tried to silence critics who slam Android for having unattractive and downright utilitarian interface by introducing a new main font family called ‘Roboto’, designed for better legibility on high resolution screens found in premium Android devices like Samsung Galaxy Nexus etc.
Multi-tasking also gets a facelift in Android 4.0. The home icon on the control bar takes the place of home key in Android 4.0. Long pressing the home icon reveals a Honeycomb style list of running applications with their small thumbnails. To remove, simply tap and hold on the thumbnail and swipe it horizontally across the screen.
Improved camera app
Though camera UI has largely been left untouched, it still comes loaded with some badly needed updates. For starters, the shutter lag has been eliminated to a huge extent, so no more lags with taking pictures. Then there is the single motion Panorama mode, which lets you take wide panorama shots by simply swivelling your phone from left to right with the software doing the rest. Now that’s some really cool stuff! Other improvements include an image editor, special effects and some optimisation camera UI.
We have seen NFC on several devices now but Google has now come up with a stock app to utilise the technology to full extent. The Android Beam feature lets you transmit data to other phones running Android OS more securely than Bluetooth, though the range is short. Android Beam enables you to share anything, ranging from contacts and Web pages to apps and YouTube videos and play video games too.