Google unveils Ice Cream Sandwich, SDK is available now

Tonight in Hong Kong, Google unveiled the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich. Here are some of the highlights of the new features of Ice Cream Sandwich:

Google found that people liked Android, but didn’t “love” Android, so they wanted to make it Enchanting, Easy, and Powerful. They have taken away the hardware buttons with attractive animations, but are hidden when watching video so you can enjoy the full screen. A Roboto font is introduced that will add to the overall look of Ice Cream Sandwich.

  • Home screens continue to launch applications and widgets, but the widgets are now scrollable. The app drawer swipes horizontal, and at the top you can easily find your widgets. Folders are super simple to create and organize now. You can create a folder of speed dial shortcuts.
  • The launcher tray is customizable with apps and even folders.
  • You can now see your most recent apps via a task manager just like Honeycomb, but you can toss away an application with a simple flick.
  • Screenshots are now supported.

  • Notifications are now improved. You can control your music from the notification bar without leaving apps. You can also get rid of any notifications with a simple flick.
  • For texting, they have improved cut, copy, and paste, and it now has an inline spell checker. Talk To Type has been improved as it’s now instant. It shows the text as you are speaking.
  • Face Unlock has been introduced that uses facial recognition technology to unlock your phone. The live on stage demo didn’t go so well, but I am liking this idea.
  • The Browser now supports tabs and you can have up to 16. Tabs show in a vertical fashion. You can close tabs with the same swipe gesture. You can now click on “request desktop site” to load the full desktop site. You can save any page for offline reading which is great for mobile boarding passes and concert tickets.
  • Gmail now has 2 line previews so you can preview each email before going into them. They have added offline searching for the last 30 days instantly.
  • Calandar now supports pinch to zoom.
  • GTalk, Google Music, Maps, and others have been updated, but they didn’t get into them much.
  • Data usage is now built into Ice Cream Sandwich and you can create warnings or limits for automatically cutting off all data. You can also analyze what apps created the most or least data.
  • Google has made it easy to take and share photos and they feel your best camera is the one in your pocket. From the lock screen you can go right to your camera. There is a slider control for zooming in, and panorama photos are now built into Ice Cream Sandwich. Photo editing tools have been added. You can touch up your photos by cropping, removing red eye, adjusting angles, and more. The new Gallery has a magazine layout look.
  • Video recording has continuous focus, zooming while recording, and taking high resolution pictures while recording.You can take time lapse videos as well.
  • Communications are now improved with the new People App. You can see all of your favorite contacts in a magazine style board. The contacts show all of their social networks including Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. From Gmail, if you tap on a contact photo, you will get a contact card of that person in which you can continue the conversation via phone or any social network.
  • High Resolution photos are shown when you are calling or receiving calls from people. Visual voicemail is added in the call logs now. You can now speed up or slow down playback in real time. You can decline calls by swiping up and sending a quick text message. You can preset some of your most used responses.
  • Android Beam lets you share any contact via NFC. You basically touch two phones together and the contact is transferred. It will also let you share any maps, youtube videos, and even apps. When someone shares an app, the other phone goes right to the market to download and/or purchase.
  • The SDK is available right now.

About the Author: Robert Nazarian

Robert lives in upstate New York where he was born and raised. Technology was always his passion. His first computer was a Radio Shack TRS80 Color that used a cassette tape to save programs, and his first laptop was a Toshiba T1200FB that sported a CGA greyscale screen and two 720kb floppy drives (no hardrive). From the early 90’s through late 2011, he only owned Motorola phones starting with the MircroTAC all the way through to the Droid X. He broke that streak when he bought the Galaxy Nexus. Now he's sporting a Galaxy Note 4, and absolutely loves it. He has a wonderful wife and a 6 year old son. In his free time he enjoys sports, movies, TV, working out, and trying to keep up with the rapid fast world of technology.

  • Curt

    Not a big fan of the facial recognition…. but I did find it funny that it almost didn’t work during the presentation

    ICS looks pretty slick.

    Now when is it coming to Verizon?

  • rahul
  • baskus

    Hah! Nice, I hope one can add more than one face to this unlock thing. Would rock! :D

  • Kie

    A few of those features are already available on the SGS2 launcher, such as panorama and screenshot. It’s good to see stock Android is finally catching up.

  • on time

    I don’t know what is happening with tech companies, for a fanbou this is great news but actually this is really boring, screenshots, really, wow, who is catching up now?

  • wikiwiki

    Besides a few, few things, nothing radical, after all if you are using honeycomb there is not a lot new features in ICS. Don’t talk about a face recognition system that is not ready and is really a gimmick. Google should bring something more polish rather than taking honeycomb twisted a little bit and launched as a new OS. For all of us with both, phone and tablets this is not as radical as for people only with android phones. Now android peoples have face recognition and iphone people have siri. Looks like the ipeople feature is more practical.

  • Curt

    Sure they added to Honeycomb to bring it to the phone. All along Google wanted to put Honeycomb and Android together back to one OS instead of two. Easier to maintain, so that is practical.

    A lot of us do not have the money for both a phone and a tablet, so yes, we are a little excited to see the changes. It might be boring to you tablet owners. Sorry it didn’t meet your expectations.