Google revealed Android 4.0 ( a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich ) for mobile and tablet on wednesday morning in an event at Hong Kong. Android 4.0 builds on the things people love most about Android — easy multitasking, rich notifications, customizable home screens, resizable widgets, and deep interactivity — and adds powerful new ways of communicating and sharing.
Refined, evolved UI – Focused on bringing the power of Android to the surface, Android 4.0 makes common actions more visible and lets users navigate with simple, intuitive gestures. Refined animations and feedback throughout the system make interactions engaging and interesting. An entirely new typeface optimized for high-resolution screens improves readability and brings a polished, modern feel to the user interface.
Multitasking – Its a key strength of Android and it’s made even easier and more visual on Android 4.0. The Recent Apps button 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.
Rich and interactive notifications – let users keep in constant touch with incoming messages, play music tracks, see real-time updates from apps, and much more. On smaller-screen devices, notifications appear at the top of the screen, while on larger-screen devices they appear in the System Bar.
Home screen folders and favorites tray – New home screen folders offer a new way for users to group their apps and shortcuts logically, just by dragging one onto another. 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.
On smaller-screen devices, the home screen now includes a customizable favorites tray visible from all home screens. Users can drag apps, shortcuts, folders, and other priority items in or out of the favorites tray for instant access from any home screen.
Resizable widgets – Home screens in Android 4.0 are designed to be content-rich and customizable. Users can do much more than add shortcuts — they can embed live application content directly through interactive widgets. Widgets let users check email, flip through a calendar, play music, check social streams, and more — right from the home screen, without having to launch apps. Widgets are resizable, so users can expand them to show more content or shrink them to save space.
New lock screen actions – The lock screens now let users do more without unlocking. 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 even manage music tracks and see album art.
Improved text input and spell-checking – The soft keyboard in Android 4.0 makes text input even faster and more accurate. 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.
To fix misspelled words more easily, Android 4.0 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. For specialized features or additional languages, users can now download and install third-party dictionaries, spell-checkers, and other text services.
Powerful voice input engine – Android 4.0 introduces a powerful new voice input engine that offers a continuous “open microphone” experience and streaming voice recognition. The new voice input engine lets users dictate the text they want, for as long as they want, using the language they want. Users can speak continously for a prolonged time, even pausing for intervals if needed, and dictate punctuation to create correct sentences. As the voice input engine enters text, it underlines possible dictation errors in gray. After dictating, users can tap the underlined words to quickly replace them from a list of suggestions.
Control over network data – Mobile devices can make extensive use of network data for streaming content, synchronizing data, downloading apps, and more. To meet the needs of users with tiered or metered data plans, Android 4.0 adds new controls for managing network data usage.
Designed for accessibility – A variety of new features greatly enhance the accessibility of Android 4.0 for blind or visually impaired users. Most important is a new explore-by-touch mode that lets users navigate without having to see the screen. Touching the screen once triggers audible feedback that identifies the UI component below; a second touch in the same component activates it with a full touch event. The new mode is especially important to support users on new devices that use virtual buttons in the System Bar, rather than dedicated hardware buttons or trackballs. Also, standard apps are updated to offer an improved accessibility experience. The Browser supports a script-based screen reader for reading favorite web content and navigating sites. For improved readability, users can also increase the default font size used across the system.
People and profiles – hroughout the system, a user’s social groups, profiles, and contacts are linked together and integrated for easy accessibility. At the center is a new People app that offers richer profile information, including a large profile picture, phone numbers, addresses and accounts, status updates, events, and a new button for connecting on integrated social networks.
Unified calendar, visual voicemail – To help organize appointments and events, 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. The app is redesigned to let users manage events more easily. Calendars are color-coded and users can swipe left or right to change dates and pinch to zoom in or out agendas.
Rich and versatile camera capabilities – The Camera app includes many new features that let users capture special moments with great photos and videos. After capturing images, they can edit and share them easily with friemds
Redesigned Gallery app with photo editor – The Gallery app now makes it easier to manage, show, and share photos and videos. For managing collections, a redesigned album layout shows many more albums and offers larger thumbnails.
Live Effects for transforming video – Live Effects is a collection of graphical transformations that add interest and fun to videos captured in the Camera app
Sharing with screenshots – Users can now share what’s on their screens more easily by taking screenshots. Hardware buttons let them snap a screenshot and store it locally. Afterward, they can view, edit, and share the screen shot in Gallery or a similar app.
Cloud-connected experience – Android has always been cloud-connected, letting users browse the web and sync photos, apps, games, email, and contacts — wherever they are and across all of their devices. Android 4.0 adds new browsing and email capabilities to let users take even more with them and keep communication organized
Powerful web browsing – The Android Browser offers an experience that’s as rich and convenient as a desktop browser. It lets users instantly sync and manage 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
Improved email – 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.
Android Beam for NFC-based sharing – Android Beam is an innovative, convenient feature for sharing across two NFC-enabled devices, It lets people instantly exchange favorite apps, contacts, music, videos — almost anything. It’s incredibly simple and convenient to use — there’s no menu to open, application to launch, or pairing needed. Just touch one Android-powered phone to another, then tap to send
Face Unlock – Android 4.0 introduces a completely new approach to securing a device, making it even more personal — 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, or use a backup PIN or pattern.
Developers can download the latest android sdk from here. Google Galaxy nexus is the first phone to get Ice Cream Sandwich – Android 4.0. We will be shortly posting about this new nexus mobile.
What do you think about the new Ice Cream Sandwich – Android 4.0 ?
Links – Andoid SDK for developers