Google’s Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 has many new features, Face Unlock and Android Beam included
Earlier today, in Hong Kong, Google has finally announced the Samsung-made Galaxy Nexus, alongside details regarding the latest version of Android, namely Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.
As many have anticipated, Android ICS 4.0 is sort of a big deal. Its look has been refined, starting with the lock screen (which can now take you directly to the camera app, or to the notification window) and finishing with Roboto – a brand new typeface that’s built from scratch for high-def displays to provide a “total makeover of the OS.”
Here’s a list of Android Ice Cream Sandwich novelties:
- three virtual buttons – Back, Home, and Recent Apps – grouped in the new System Bar, which is present across all applications, although it can disappear to allow full screen view (in videos for example). So new ICS devices – like the Google Galaxy Nexus – don’t need hardware buttons (I’m not sure if this means all ICS devices will come without hardware buttons – we’ll see)
- new Action bar for accessing each application’s contextual options
- Face Unlock – ICS recognizes your face and lets you unlock your handset just by holding it in front of your face. Of course, you can also use a backup PIN or pattern.
- home screen folders – apps and shortcuts can now be grouped into folders on the home screen (yes, this is similar to what you can do on the iPhone)
- Android Beam – available for NFC-ready devices; lets you share contacts, articles, photos, YouTube videos and more by simply tapping two handsets together
- enhanced multitasking. There’s a new Recent Apps button that “lets users jump instantly from one task to another using the list in the System Bar. The list pops up to show thumbnail images of apps used recently – tapping a thumbnail switches to the app”
- resizable widgets
- new voice input engine that provides instant talk to type capabilities
- new People app – somewhat similar to Windows Phone’s People Hub – provides rich profile information
- new browser with “improved page rendering performance”, up to 16 different tabs, and offline reading mode (lets you save full pages)
- enhanced soft keyboard and spell checking
- enhanced calendar and email
- network data usage management system
- enhanced camera features, including panorama mode and timelaps video recording (although I’m not sure if the latter isn’t a feature that works only on the Galaxy Nexus)
- redesigned photo gallery, including a photo editor
The Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 SDK is available for download as of now at the official Android website. As already mentioned, the first Ice Cream Sandwich device will be the Galaxy Nexus, which should be released around the world starting November.
There is now word on when exactly older Android devices will be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich. However, it looks like most of those who use Gingerbread will be able to get ICS on their devices – which, of course, is great news.
In case you want to see the full Google Galaxy Nexus / Android Ice Creams Sandwich presentation, here it is (57 minutes video):