So now that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is official, let’s talk about what’s new in Google’s latest mobile OS update, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Google is calling it “simple, beautiful and beyond smart.” Read on to find out why.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich improves upon 2.3.x Gingerbread by bringing in elements of 3.x Honeycomb (tablets) and adding new advanced features that mesh well with the smartphone ecosystem. This includes improvements like easier multitasking, richer notifications, customizable home screens, resizable widgets, and deeper integration.
The user interface has been retooled with refined animations, on-screen virtual buttons, and overall elegant design. Common actions are now more visible and swipe gestures are used more intuitively throughout the software. An entirely new typeface, called Roboto, has been introduced that’s optimized for high-resolution displays, which helps improve readability. The System Bar displays virtual buttons (Back, Home, Recent Apps) that adapt to each situation. They’re present across all apps, but can be dimmed by applications for full-screen viewing. Contextual options are accessible in the upper Action Bar, however, sometimes they’re appear at the bottom as well.
The Recent Apps software button allows users to jump instantly from task to task using the list in the System Bar. The list pops up to show thumbnail images of apps used recently and tapping a thumbnail switches to the app. Interactive notifications let users keep in constant touch with incoming messages, play music tracks, see real-time updates from apps, and more. On smaller-screen devices, notifications appear at the top of the screen, while on larger-screen devices they appear in the System Bar. Users can dismiss individual notifications and apps from the Recent Apps list with a quick swipe of a finger.
There is now a new way to group apps and shortcuts. Simply drag an them onto each other to form a folder. From the All Apps launcher, users can now simply drag an app to get information about it or immediately uninstall it, or disable a pre-installed app. The home screen favorites tray is customizable and allows users can drag apps, shortcuts, folders, and other priority items in or out of it for instant access from any home screen. Home screen widgets are also resizable now, allowing users to expand or contract them as they please
Finally, the lockscreen on vanilla Android will allow users to do more without first unlocking their device. From the slide lock screen, users can jump directly to the camera for a picture or pull down the notifications window to check for messages. When listening to music, users can manage music tracks and see album art.
The software keyboard in Ice Cream Sandwich has been improved with more speed and better accuracy. Error correction and word suggestion are improved through a new set of default dictionaries and more accurate heuristics for handling cases such as double-typed characters, skipped letters, and omitted spaces. Word suggestion is also improved and the suggestion strip is simplified to show only three words at a time. Android 4.0 also adds a spell-checker that locates and underlines errors and suggests replacement words. With one tap, users can choose from multiple spelling suggestions, delete a word, or add it to the dictionary. Users can even tap to see replacement suggestions for words that are spelled correctly.
Voice to text input is nothing new in Android, but a continuous “open microphone” experience will take it to a whole new level. Essentially, users can now speak continuously for a prolonged time while the text is streamed live with minimal delay. After dictating, users can tap underlined errors to quickly replace those words using a suggestion list.
Users’ social groups, profiles, and contacts are linked together and integrated for easy accessibility. The People app includes a large profile picture, phone numbers, addresses and accounts, status updates, and a new button for connecting on integrated social networks.
An updated Calendar app brings together personal, work, school, and social agendas. With user permission, other applications can contribute events to the calendar and manage reminders, for an integrated view across multiple calendar providers. Calendars are color-coded and users can swipe left or right to change dates and pinch to zoom in or out agendas.
After capturing images with the camera, users can edit and share them easily with friends. When taking pictures, continuous focus, zero shutter lag exposure, and decreased shot-to-shot speed help capture clear, precise images. Stabilized image zoom lets users compose photos and video in the way they want, including while video is recording. Users can also take snapshots at full video resolution just by tapping the screen as video continues to record.
Built-in face detection locates faces in the frame and automatically sets focus. For more control, users can tap to focus anywhere in the preview image. The new single-motion panorama mode allows users to capture a wider perspective with ease. After taking a picture or video, users can quickly share it by email, text message, Bluetooth, and social networks just by tapping the thumbnail in the camera controls.
A redesigned album layout displays more albums with larger thumbnails. Pictures can be sorted by time, location, people, and tags. The Gallery now includes a powerful photo editor to help optimize pictures. Users can crop and rotate pictures, set levels, remove red eyes, add effects, and more. Live Effects is a collection of fun graphical transformations that can be applied to videos captured with the phone’s camcorder. It’s even available during video chat in the Google Talk app.
The Android Browser offers an experience that’s as rich and convenient as a desktop browser. It lets users instantly and manage sync Google Chrome bookmarks from all of their accounts, jump to their favorite content faster, and even save it for reading later in case there’s no network available.
To get the most out of web content, users can now request full desktop versions of web sites, rather than their mobile versions. Users can set their preference for web sites separately for each browser tab. For longer content, users can save a copy for offline reading. To find and open saved pages, users can browse a visual list that’s included with browser bookmarks and history. For better readability and accessibility, users can increase the browser’s zoom levels and override the system default text sizes.
In Android 4.0, email is easier to send, read, and manage. For composing email, improved auto-completion of recipients helps with finding and adding frequent contacts more quickly. For easier input of frequent text, users can now create quick responses and store them in the app, then enter them from a convenient menu when composing. When replying to a message, users can now toggle the message to Reply All and Forward without changing screens.
For easier browsing across accounts and labels, the app adds an integrated menu of accounts and recent labels. To help users locate and organize IMAP and Exchange email, the Email app now supports nested mail sub-folders, each with synchronization rules. Users can also search across folders on the server, for faster results. For keeping track of incoming email more easily, a resizable Email widget lets users flick through recent email right from the home screen, then jump into the Email app to compose or reply.
Android Beam lets people instantly exchange favorite apps, contacts, music, videos — almost anything. Just touch one Android-powered phone to another, then tap to send. For sharing apps, Android Beam pushes a link to the app’s details page in Android Market. On the other device, the Market app launches and loads the details page, for easy downloading of the app.
Face Unlock is a new screen-lock option that lets users unlock their devices with their faces. It takes advantage of state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to register a face and to recognize it later when unlocking the device. Users just hold their devices in front of their faces to unlock.
– 1.2 GHz Dual Core Processor
– 4.65” 1280X720 HD Super AMOLED display
– Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich
– Rear Camera: 5 MP AF with LED Flash with zero shutter lag and fast shot2shot
– Front-facing Camera: 1.3MP for Video Call
– Video Playback : 1080p@ 30fps
– Video Recording : 1080p Full HD Video@ 30fps
– Audio Codec : MP3/AAC/AAC＋/eAAC＋
– 3.5mm Ear Jack
– Android Market™, Gmail™, Google Earth™, YouTube™, Movie Studio
– Google Maps™ 5.0 with 3D maps and turn-by-turn navigation
– Syncing with Google Calendar™, Google＋ app
– Bluetooth® technology v 3.0
– USB 2.0
– Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4GHz/ 5GHz)
– NFC (Near Field Communication)
– Accelerometer, Compass, Gyro, Light, Proximity, Barometer
– 1GB(RAM) ＋ 16GB/ 32GB Internal memory
– 135.5 x 67.94 x 8.94mm, 135g
– Standard battery, Li-on 1,750 mAh
– HSPA＋ 21Mbps/HSUPA 5.76Mbps 850/900/1900/1700/2100
– EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900
– LTE version will be available depending on the region.