What's New in Android 4.0?

Category: Mobile

Android 4.0, the latest update to Google's mobile operating system, is here. The Android 4.0 release - also known as Ice Cream Sandwich - will first be available on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone, due to be released in early November, 2011. Android 4 is full of new features; here are some of the coolest...

New Features in Android 4.0

If you have a smartphone or tablet that runs the Android operating system, you may soon be getting a nice surprise. Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest release of the Android OS will be rolling out to mobile devices over the next few months, and it brings some exciting new features. Here are some of the highlights:

New User Interface - Android 4's user interface better blends the tablet and smartphone experiences. It also includes a multitasking icon that pulls up your recently used apps, and context-adaptable software buttons that eliminate the needs for physical buttons on the case.

Face Unlock - instead of entering a PIN to unlock your smartphone, just look into its camera. Face recognition capability is built into Android 4, or at least enough of it to provide biometric security.
Android 4.0 - Ice Cream Sandwich

Speech Command - Android 4 lets users create emails and text messages, and perform other functions, simply by speaking. This might reduce the risks and of using a smartphone while driving.

Android Beam - share apps, maps, files, videos, and other data by simply tapping two Ice Cream Sandwich phones together. The tech term is "near-field communications" or NFC. NFC is also the technology that will enable electronic payments with a tap of your smartphone on a vendor's terminal.

Improved Web Browser - Android 4's browser more closely matches the capabilities of the desktop Google Chrome browser. It also includes Chrome Sync, which keeps bookmarks synced between mobile and desktop browsers. A "full site" button lets you switch between the mobile and desktop versions of a Web page. Tabs and an "incognito surfing" button are also new.

New Contacts & Social Networking Features - Android 4's "People" feature set streamlines the display of contact information. You can import contacts from your social network connections or enter contacts manually. Data is displayed on "cards" and updated automatically whenever a contact updates his or her social network information.

Data Plan Management - Android 4 includes a new app that that lets you monitor each app's data usage and set caps on specific apps. You can also set warning alarms to alert you when you are approaching your data plan's monthly allowances. This will be handy for avoiding exorbitant charges for exceeding your monthly allowances.

New Camera Capabilities - Android 4 features faster multiple-shot picture-taking. An improved photo editor is included, as well as an image rotator. The Virtual Camera Operator feature automatically figures out who is speaking in video chats and sets the focus on that person.

Widget Management - Android 4 lets you select the size of information icons displayed on the home screen. Adding widgets to the desktop is also easier; just press and hold the screen to open a menu displaying all available widgets.

Simple Screenshots - simultaneously pressing the power and volume-down buttons will snap a screenshot, presumably for tech support or reviewer's purposes.

What's With All The Yummy Monikers?

Many companies use code names for software projects, and often they are themed. Ubuntu Linux has named each release for a different strange sounding animal. The last few (Karmic Koala, Lucid Lynx, Maverick Meerkat, Natty Narwhal, Oneiric Ocelot) have been particularly funky.

For reasons that are shrouded in mystery, Google has given code names to each Android release that correspond to popular desserts. Nobody knows what delicacies the early "A" and "B" internal releases were tagged with, but starting with Android v1.5, the code names have been Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich.

Most high-end smartphones now run the Gingerbread 2.3.x release of the Android OS, while Honeycomb (Android 3.x) was written specifically for tablet devices. Ice Cream Sandwich converges the two, offering a unified interface for all mobile devices.

Other devices loaded with Ice Cream Sandwich should start showing up in December, and the plan is for Ice Cream Sandwich to roll out as an upgrade to nearly all phones currently running Gingerbread, within a few months. If you have plans to buy a smartphone or tablet soon, make sure you don't get stuck with anything that doesn't ship with (or can be upgraded to) the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich system software.

Your thoughts are welcome on this topic. Post your comment or question below.

 
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Most recent comments on "What's New in Android 4.0?"

Posted by:

Linda
04 Nov 2011

I have a Samsung Droid from StraightTalk. It has 2.2 or 2.3 (can't remember which). Will I be able to upgrade?


Posted by:

Rick
05 Nov 2011

I have Samsung Infuse, only 2 months old, and is has Froyo.UCKH1, firmware version 2.2.1. Will it get any of the upgrades - Gingerbread or Ice Cream Sandwich??


Posted by:

Vickie
05 Nov 2011

Is there a list of what will be upgradeable? I have an Acer Iconia and a Droid3. I'm pretty sure my Pandigital Novel won't upgrade. Thanks.


Posted by:

Cynthia
05 Nov 2011

I have the same question as others. I have a Samsung Galaxy (I). Will I be able to upgrade?

EDITOR'S NOTE: The availability and timing of Android upgrades is (unfortunately) in the hands of your mobile provider.


Posted by:

ManoaHi
10 Nov 2011

I bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 after I had read that it will get an upgrade to ICS sometime later this year or early next year. Out of the box, it came with Honeycomb 3.1 (did not get/need 3.2). I got the wi-fi model, so I should be able to get ICS earlier since it does not depend upon mobile provider. The one feature that I saw (elsewhere) is that ICS is going to have folders (ala iOS) and that for me is big, since it makes it easier to manage apps.


Posted by:

Sherry Davis
04 Feb 2012

You can find out if your Android smartphone will be getting the "Ice Cream Sandwich" upgrade here:

http://blogs.computerworld.com/19341/android_40_upgrade_list#HTCEVODesign4G


Posted by:

Khan
12 Dec 2012

I need to download Android 4.0 os for tablet pc.

How can I get the assistance.

Please help how can I download it.

Asad


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