Android 4.0 Unveiled: Will Ice Cream Sandwich Pull You Away from Apple’s iOS?

October 19, 2011

10:01 am

Google just pulled the curtain off Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, at a Hong Kong event Wednesday morning. The operating system will run on the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone, to be released in November.

Designed to work on phones and tablets, Ice Cream Sandwich has too many new features to mention, including easier folder creation and screenshots, software rather than hardware buttons, and a new font. You can unlock your phone using facial recognition and access notifications and the camera directly from the lock screen. A revamped People app pulls photos and updates from social networks like Google Plus, and a new analytics tool can prevent you from exceeding your data limit.

But in the smartphone war with Apple, some of Google’s strongest weapons are the following:

  • An improved experience in Google products. In Gmail, you can search messages offline, swipe right and left through them, and see 2-line previews. Chrome syncs your bookmarks using your Google account, and the Google Calendar is zoomable. These are features that even a diehard but Gmail-using Apple fan should love.
  • A new camera app featuring no shutter lag, easy panoramas, and the ability to take photos while recording video.
  • Android Beam, which uses near-field communication (NFC) to share webpages, videos, maps, or apps when 2 phones are tapped together. To me, this looks like a move toward friends exchanging payment, which is what Google Wallet is missing. Also, Android apps can leverage this feature to let users swap game scores or start a chat, and the Android 4.0 SDK is already available for developers.
  • Better voice input, which lets you dictate word by word (rather than by sentence). It also underlines possible mistakes that, when tapped, bring up other suggestions. This is the direction that phone control may be heading if the technology continues to improve.

In addition to its premiere on the Galaxy Nexus, Ice Cream Sandwich will be available on the Nexus S and possibly on Gingerbread devices, Engadget reports. For iPhone users out there, will this tempt you to try Android?

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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