Google Unwraps Ice Cream Sandwich, The Latest Version of Android

Google Unwraps Ice Cream Sandwich, The Latest Version of Android

Oct 19, 2011

Along with the Galaxy Nexus, Google showed off Ice Cream Sandwich publicly for the first time on Wednesday morning, October 19th, in Hong Kong. While many of the features were shown to be tailored to the Galaxy Nexus, many of the core features can be expected in both upcoming phones and hopefully in updates to current phones. Many of the features in Ice Cream Sandwich are taken from Honeycomb, and are new to phones. First off, phones will have the ability to have virtual buttons, which can be hid by full-screen apps. The Honeycomb multitasking button is now available on Ice Cream Sandwich as well, allowing for easy switching between apps.

The gallery app has new options for photo editing, including the ability to apply so-called hipster filters, along with the currently-available photo editing options. Panoramic photos are now available in the stock camera app as well; Samsung already offered this feature in their phones. As mentioned previously, screen capture with the lock and volume down keys has also been added.

The browser has been overhauled; tabs can be switched through in a similar way to multitasking. The ability to request a desktop version of a site instead of the mobile version is also available. Incognito mode has made its way to the browser, a feature previously seen in Chrome, where the web can be browsed without any data or cookies saved. Websites can be saved for offline viewing, and can be shared via Google Beam.

Gmail and Calendar will be overhauled with new interfaces, and will take advantage of the visual contacts theme that Google has introduced. This means that contacts will be identified by their photos across the OS and in many apps. Contact information includes new social updates as well, hoping to be an aggregator for information on friends, family, and colleagues.

An advanced feature for those looking to manage their mobile data is in the Settings’ new Data Usage Controls. Users can set monthly data caps, view which services are using mobile data, and can also block mobile data usage entirely. Notifications have received mild updates, with the ability to swipe away individual notifications, and the aforementioned visual contact display for incoming messages.

The SDK for Ice Cream Sandwich has been released, and developers can start working on their apps for the new OS immediately. The first device to ship with ICS will be the Galaxy Nexus; previous devices that will get it have not yet been announced.