Android is a software stack for mobiles devices that includes an operating system, middleware and key applications. As Ice Cream Sandwich was previewed at the May 2011 Google I/O event, and officially launched at the Galaxy Nexusand Ice Cream Sandwich release event on 19 October 2011. The SDK for Android 4.0 was publicly released on 19 October 2011. Gabe Cohen from Google said that it is “theoretically compatible” with any Android 2.3.x device currently in production.The source code for this version is scheduled to be released after the Galaxy Nexus ships. The latest version of Google mobile OS which combines the best of the Android 2.x phone interface with the Android 3.x honeycomb tablet interface. The Ice Cream Sandwich is designed for both tablets and phones. It follows series like cupcake, donut, eclair, froyo, gingerbread, honeycomb, and next operating system is Ice Cream Sandwich.
Android 4.0 for Users
Refined, Evolved UI
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 modern feel to the users interface. The system bar and virtual buttons are present across all apps, but can be dimmed by applications for full screen viewing. The users can access each applications in the Action Bar, displayed at the top of the screen.
Instead of removing all of your applications all at once with a clear button, you will have the options to remove individual notifications by simply brushing them off of your notifications bar with the swipe of a finger.
Among the first new features championed by google at the Hong Kong media event was a brand new typeface for Android in the shape of easy to read Roboto
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.
Home Screen Folders
New home screen folders offer a new way to users to group their apps and shorcuts logically, just by dragging one onto another. Therefore, 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 customizablefavorites tray visible from all home screens.
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.
New Lock Screen actions
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 an incoming call arrives, users can now quickly respond by text messages, without needing to pick up the call. On the incoming call screen, users simply slide a control to see a list of text responses and then tap to send and end the call.
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. To fix misspelled words more easily, Android 4.0 adds a spell-checker that locates and underlines errors and suggests replacement words. For specialized features or additional languages, users can now download and install third-party dictionaries, spell-checkers, and other text services.
Designed for accessibility
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 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.
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.
n the phone app, a new visual voicemail features integrates incoming messages, voice transcriptions, and audio files from one or more providers. Third-party applications can integrate with the Phone app to add their own voice messages, transcriptions, and more to the visual voicemail inbox.
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.
When taking pictures, continuous focus, zero shutter lag exposure, and decreased shot-to-shot speed help capture clear, precise images. Stabilized image zoom lets users compose photos and video in the way they want, including while video is recording. For new flexibility and convenience while shooting video, users can now take snapshots at full video resolution just by tapping the screen as video continues to record.
To make it easier to take great pictures of people, built-in face detection locates faces in the frame and automatically sets focus. For more control, users can tap to focus anywhere in the preview image.
For capturing larger scenes, the Camera introduces a single-motion panorama mode. In this mode, the user starts an exposure and then slowly turns the Camera to encompass as wide a perspective as needed.
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.
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.
To get the most out of web content, users can now request full desktop versions of web sites, rather than their mobile versions. Users can set their preference for web sites separately for each browser tab. For longer content, users can save a copy for offline reading.
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 browsing across accounts and labels, the app adds an integrated menu of accounts and recent labels. To help users locate and organize IMAP and Exchange email, the Email app now supports nested mail subfolders, each with synchronization rules.
Android 4.0 introduces a completely new approach to securing a device, making each person’s device even more personal. Face Unlock is a new screen-lock option that lets users unlock their devices with their faces. It takes advantage of the device front-facing camera and state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to register a face during setup and then to recognize it again when unlocking the device.
Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth HDP
Support for Wi-Fi Direct lets users connect directly to nearby peer devices over Wi-Fi, for more reliable, higher-speed communication. No internet connection or tethering is needed. Through third-party apps, users can connect to compatible devices to take advantage of new features such as instant sharing of files, photos, or other media.
Android 4.0 also introduces built-in support for connecting to Bluetooth Health Device Profile (HDP) devices. With support from third-party apps, users can connect to wireless medical devices and sensors in hospitals, fitness centers, homes, and elsewhere.
Other features of Android 4.0 (ICS) in Short :
- Virtual buttons in the UI, instead of taking up a capacitive screen
- Voice typing, capable of recognizing speech and converting it into text
- Widgets in a new tab, listed in a similar list to apps
- Easier-to-create folders, with a drag-and-drop style
- A customizable launcher
- In a new phone app, visual voicemail functionality that lets user speed up or slow down *voicemail messages
- Pinch-to-zoom functionality in the calendar
- Offline search, a two-line preview, and new action bar at the bottom of the Gmail app
- Ability to swipe left or right to switch between Gmail conversations
- Integrated screenshot capture (accomplished by holding Power and Volume-Down buttons)
- Improved error correction on the keyboard
- Ability to access apps directly from lock screen (similar to HTC Sense 3.x)
- Improved copy and paste functionality
- Better voice integration and continuous dictating capability
- Face Unlock, a facial recognition service
- New tabbed web browser, allowing up to 16 tabs
- Automatic syncing of browser with user’s Chrome bookmarks
- Modern Roboto font
- Data Usage section in settings that lets user set warnings when they approach a certain usage limit, and disable data when the limit is exceeded
- Ability to shut down apps that are using data in the background
- Camera app: zero shutter lag, time lapse settings, zoom while recording
- Built-in photo editor
- New gallery layout, organized by location and person
- Refreshed ‘People’ app with social network integration, status updates and hi-res images
- Android Beam, a NFC feature that lets user exchange websites, contact info, directions, YouTube, etc.
- Hardware acceleration of the UI
- Resizeable widgets
- Wi-Fi Direct
So, as you already know that the Ice Cream Sandwich is now official launched and will make its first appearance on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. But the ICS is more than just unifications of the smartphone and tablets versions of Android.