Known popularly by the code name Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0 is an important update to Google’s mobile operating system. It will be available for both tablets and smartphones, and seeks to unify an Android experience that has become more and more fragmented. Here are some of the new and revised features of Android 4.0
The New Holo Theme
A new version of Android has a new theme called “Holo,” It’s easily the best looking interface for an Android device to date.
Google has made this theme a compatibility requirement for devices running Android 4.0. If a device does not use the theme, it won’t be able to access the Android Market. Doing this is an obvious effort to cut down on fragmentation of Android.
A Better App Launcher, With Folders
It was possible to launch apps from app launcher – but not uninstall them. For that, you had to delve deep into the Settings menu. Folders are also now included by default in the app launcher. With the new version it’s finally possible to uninstall apps via drag-and-drop. You’ll also be able, according to official information, permanently disable apps that were pre-baked into the device.
Thumbnail Multi-Tasking For Smartphones
When Android Honeycomb was released, it offered a new multi-tasking system that featured thumbnail views of apps but smartphone owners were left out. In Android 4.0. Multi-tasking on all devices with the OS will take place using a thumbnail view of recently used apps. Switching between apps should now be quicker.
Lock Screen Actions
The lock screen is supposed to protect your phone, but not all parts of your phone need protection. In Android 4.0, you can access the camera to snap a picture or view notifications on a locked phone. Taking additional actions from the notifications display will require that you unlock the phone as before, but you’ll now be able to check for messages or emails more easily.
And since the new notifications system includes music controls, you can play, pause, or switch tracks as well.
A Built-In Data Usage Monitor
Android 4.0 includes built-in usage monitors by default. Overall data is monitored, as is the data requested by each individual app, making it easy for you to see if a particular app is hogging all of your data, or what percentage of your data is being consumed by web surfing.
Fine-Tuned Notification Control
Notifications aren’t bad on Android devices currently, but they’re been further revised in 4.0. One of the best updates is support for app control directly from the notifications menu. Another nice extra is the ability to clear individual notifications. That was possible before – it was an all or nothing deal – but now you can swipe a single notification away. Access to the Settings menu is included by default, as well because Android 4.0 has done away with the Menu button.
New Wireless Connectivity
Wi-Fi Direct solves this problem by allowing Android phones to share information directly between them using their wireless radio.
Ice Scream Sandwich will also let devices connect to each other using near-field communications. It’s called Android Beam, and it allows phones that are right next to each other to share data. This means you can “tap-to-share” – knock devices together to have them communicate.
A Better Camera & Photo Editing
Google has put a lot of work into its camera and gallery apps for the new release. The default camera app now has access to things like continuous focus, face detection and stabilized image zoom, which should make it easier for users to snap quality photos. Also included is the ability to snap full-resolution photos while taking video without interrupting the recording.
Besides interface changes, the gallery also includes a photo editing mode that has a number of basic options like crop and rotate, remove red eyes, adjust color balance and more. These touch-ups can be applied and then saved in place of the original photo.