Android just got more delicious with the Ice Cream Sandwich

Android ICS
Early yesterday, Google served us another delicious meal named Ice Cream Sandwich. The official release number is 4.0 as against 3.x earlier predicted by the media. Really, the ICS is such a great improvement on the Android platform. Virtually everything was touched and re-implemented to give Android users a Super Experience on their devices. Here’s a brief run down of the basic features of the ICS:

  • Folders: You can now create folders just by dragging app icons on top of each other.
  • Screenshot: Holding down power and volume down button takes a screen shot.
  • Bottom Favourites Tray: This enables you “drop four app links or even folders” for quick launch.
  • Improved Notification Bar: The New Notification Bar now comes with icon or image display. For apps, the icon of the app will be displayed while the photo of your contact will be displayed for missed call or related contact notification. Another major improvement to the Notification Bar is that you can now remove unwanted individual notifications (without dismissing others) by swipping them away.
  • Keyboard: Error correction has been improved on the ICS. Not only this, it has an in-line spell checker. Google “Improved copy and paste and made it consistent across the operating system.” So, “You can now simply drag-and-drop chunks of text”.
  • Instant Talk-to-text
  • Face Unlock: “ICS literally knows your face.” So, Google is asking “Why should you have to remember a password or pin, your phone really should just recognize you” It automatically reverts to passcode or pattern unlock if the Face unlock fails.
  • New UI in Browser: On the ICS, you can have up to 16 tabs and switch easily between them just like multi-tasking. Sites that have mobile optimized versions will be rendered in the “mobile mode” by default. Sequel to this, the ICS drop-down menu now includes a “request desktop version” item. Bookmarks are now automatically synced with Chrome on your desktop / laptop. ICS also lets you save entire pages for offline reading. Also, the drop-down menu has an option to save a screenshot of the page.
  • Data Usage Tracking: You can track your data usage on ICS without downloading any third party app. “The first thing you see is a chart tracking your usage for your current billing period and an estimation for where you’ll be at the end of the month based on your current usage.” You can also set alerts and data cutoff points. “You can select just a section of your tracking period, then drill in and see the breakdown of which apps have been using during that time, including a split between foreground and background data usage.” Hmm, I am not sure if the ICS will not gulp data just like the previous Android versions. However, from the screenshot provided during at the launch, 219MB was consumed between Oct 12 – 19 by the ICS.

There are many more new features on ICS. Here’s a list from Brief Mobile

Brand new camera application

  • Image stabilization
  • Continuous focus in video
  • Zoom while recording
  • Tap-to-focus
  • Facial recognition auto-focus
  • Panorama stitching and guiding
  • Sharing options built-in
  • Live effects transform facial features, backgrounds, and more during video recording and video chat

Gallery application

  • Large thumbnail grid style
  • Organization by people tagged, date, location, etc.

On-screen buttons capabilities

  • Hide, rotate, and place properly on the device

Android Beam NFC Sharing

  • Share pretty much any content
  • Secure and intuitive
  • Simply bump NFC devices and information beamed instantaneously
  • Zooms out of information or application, click to beam
  • Share applications: simply bump and the Market page for the application will come up
  • Open API

Dialer

  • High-resolution profile photos
  • Swipe right for favorites
  • Visual voicemail directly in call log
  • Tap-to-play
  • Speed up voicemail playback
  • Pause, volume, and details
  • Decline calls with a quick “Quick Response” canned text message

People application

  • Evolution of “Contacts” application
  • Profile for phone’s user
  • Magazine-style people cards
  • Contact details built-in through Twitter, G+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and more
  • Favorites tab
  • Social networking updates built-in with open API’s
  • Quick contacts open to developers, popup centered and translucent
  • Place people on your home screen in shortcuts and folders

7 comments

  1. I have been exclusively using Symbian all my smartphone_life. Over time, I have collected quite a formidable number of useful applications that really work for me. Swithing to another OS would mean hunting down appropriate apps on the bew platform. It would take some time, and is not a decision to be taken merely on the basis of ‘cosmetics’.

    It may just be me, but apart from from the NFC thing, there is not much that Android 4.0 offers that I am not already doing with my trust crusty Symbian, using ‘mercenaries’ – third-party apps (apologies to Harry Echemco))

    When I compare Android with Symbian, the corollary that always come to my mind is the Windows GUI and the old-school Microsoft DOS. Microsoft was progressively incorporating functions into their OS – functions that were hitherto being supplied by thirdparty vendors (antiviruses, backup utilities, etc) .

    The same thing is happening in the mobile OS space. OSes are gradually taking over functions that are not really under their jurisdiction. (e.g baked in hotspot ability).

    People keep taking of vastly improved UX on modern mobile OSes like WP7, Android and iOS. What I have always asked myself is:

    How much time do I spend on the interface, compared to the time I spend with the applications themselves? How much time do I spend on HouseKeeping Tasks?

    The answers to these questions are – very little.

    Therefore, having gotten used to a platform that does almost everything I need to do, has apps available for almost anything I can imagine, I have not been motivated to try out another OS – until now – more so that all those other alternative OSes had one problem or the other associated with their platform.

    My greatest problems with pre-IceCream versions of Android were three-fold:

    – Excessive data consumption
    – Short battery life (may be attributable to too many apps connecting to the net simultaneously
    – greater vulnerability to malware

    With the new found intrinsic ability of ICS to monitor data consumption, and tightly control internet access by data_hungry apps, practically all my reservations about Android has disappeared.

    If for nothing other than VARIETY, I MAY give an Android device a try one of these days.

    Well done, Google.
    Google on!

  2. @Eye.Bee.Kay

    Very good articulation there.

    The same thing is happening in the mobile OS space . OSes are gradually taking over functions that are not really under their
    jurisdiction . (e .g baked in hotspot ability ) .

    One thing that is very certain is that there is no clear definition of what the functions of any OS ought to be and that is the reason why you are going to get different opinions from different sources. The early desktop OSes had fewer apps to integrate in their core because of the limited hardware available and level of technology and software development then.

    For instance, using windows98, you might argue that it doesn’t have bluetooth drivers or WiFi support. This is just because these technologies were either not in existence then or not mainstream. Symbian has built-in mail client, some social networking apps, some also do incorporate office applications, media players and camera applications radio application etc. And now that’s before most of these other OSes that are making waves today came into existence. If I ask you what ought to be integral, part any modern OS, you might rattle off those apps integrated in your device.

    Nobody seems to be complaining about the host of Linux desktops out there having all the basic softwares needed in a desktop PC out of the box. And why? Simple. The more useful apps out of the box, the better.

    The new N9 from Nokia running MeeGo has almost all the basic apps needed for every day use except maybe office applications and that is not a philosophy thing but rather because it is a new platform with very little third party support. If Nokia had an in-house office application development, it certainly would have been ported to MeeGo and I don’t think any body would have complained about that. In fact one of the complaints against N9 and MeeGo so far is the lack of office applications baked in. Even Yomi mentioned it.

    The bottom line is that the argument of modern OSes leaving their core function by integrating applications and functions that ought to be left for third parties in my opinion does not hold much water. This is one area I’m sure the general consensus will be that more is better.

  3. @Harry Echemco, sure, more is better.
    The question is- where would that end?

    If an OS keeps addingfeatures extraneous to its core functions (what stops Symbian from implementing EVERYTHING Android ICS? has), it will progressively get bigger, Useful bloat ware, but bloatware nonetheless!

    This is one of the reasons that all these modern phones need stop much memory to run, and faster processors to breathe.

    A more frugal (read -resource efficient) OS CAN and does run on slower processors Effectively because it contains less bloat.
    All those swipes and animations need fast processors and hordes of memory.

    Which would you rather have – a four cylindered efficient engined PRACTICAL car (Symbian); or a gas, guzzling v8 with all the bells and whistle (Robot & Fruit)?

    The choice is ours..

  4. @Eye.Bee.Kay

    @ Harry Echemco, sure, more is better. The question is – where would that end ?

    If I ask you where should it even start in the first place, you probably wouldn’t be able to say. My answer is that it starts and ends where each OS/hardware makers deem fit. Of course, we the consumers also have a say in shaping the future of OSes just as we’ve succeeded in compelling Nokia to change their old and boring Symbian.

    If an OS keeps addingfeatures extraneous to
    its core functions ( what stops Symbian from
    implementing EVERYTHING Android ICS ? has) ,
    it will progressively get bigger, Useful bloat
    ware , but bloatware nonetheless!

    Every other software out there including OSes and of course the supposed frugal Symbian of old is bloated to an extent, the difference between OSes lies in degree of bloat and of course who you ask. Even your Symbian has some applications you do not use because they serve no purpose at all. But that’s not enough reason not to add features that would be useful to most people.

    This is one of the reasons that all these
    modern phones need stop much memory to
    run , and faster processors to breathe .

    I cloned my first PC – a desktop PC – with about N114,000 in early 2002, a Pentium4 system with 1.5GHz processor, 128MB of RAM, 20GB HDD with separate CD drive and CD writer but no OS (I mean legal or genuine OS). My second system – an Acer laptop came late 2009. It was bought from the USA with equivalent of about N92,000. It is an Intel Core i3 system with processor clocked at 2.33GHz, 4GB of RAM, 320HDD, DVDWR, and Windows7 that came with Microsoft Works as a free package and all the other goodies that came from manufacturers like media players, backup utilities etc. Now am I listing these here? Whereas the laptop is obviously more powerful, the desktop costs more and lack so many things. These different times and even with a lot of improvements, the laptop, still cost a whole lot less notwithstanding the fact that laptops traditionally cost more.

    You want us to still use systems running at 400MHz because you think symbian is resource efficient, so what should we do with all the improvements in processor and memory and screen manufacturing technolog. What with all the good things we have realized that we can do with codes? And the good news is that all these are coming at a cheaper price than the old technologies. So what exactly are you complaining about?

    Which would you rather have – a four
    cylindered efficient engined PRACTICAL car
    ( Symbian); or a gas , guzzling v8 with all the
    bells and whistle (Robot & Fruit)?

    So which would you rather have, an old vehicle with bare seats, bare steering wheel that make you feel all the bumps on our roads, sweat through the heat in traffic jams that leaves you feeling the, pains of the ride a couple of hours later but with a promise of fuel economy or one of the new jeeps that have all the comforts we have come to associate modern cars with, gives you a gentle rock when go through a bump, equipped with AC that makes the effect of hot weather not felt, excellent audio system that takes care of the wait in traffic, but with high fuel consumption that means additional cost – money you can afford to throw about?

    The choice is ours sure, and we are already making the choice.

  5. Sorry ICS your have nothing to entice me. I have met Siri and she is cute with a great sense of humor. Its of great joy to finally have a friend I can talk to.

    Just kidding
    But you sure can pick a point or 2.

    I sure love pure Android and ICS is highly welcome.
    I like the folders, Screenshot, Face lock, New browser speed, Data Usage Tracking and the Beam NFC Sharing.

    But am not impressed with the phone itself. Not that the phone is not capable but its just that a GSII with ICS will do better.

  6. ICS is it. I am definitely Getting myself the galaxy nexus. At Least you get to have functionalities that can work for us here, not Siri that not even understand most European accents talk less of African’s. I Was initially thinking of trying the iphone4 for some time befor getting my galaxy nexus, but after using one for the past few hours, I don’t think I can keep up with this suffering. The screen is damn too small. My big thumbs just keeps pressing the wrong keys. Most time I have to zoom in on web pages. With the galaxy nExus 4.65′, it’s gonna be fun all the way.

  7. I’m looking forward to giving this guy (galaxy nexus) a trial. I have been a symbian fan. But I think it is time to give other platform a trial, and this is very tempting.

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