A Redesigned User InterfaceOne of the most significant changes users will find in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is its redesigned user interface. According to Google, the operating system makes “common actions more visible” and helps users more easily navigate their way around the OS. The operating system, at least in images, appears to be a bit more user-friendly.
Better MultitaskingMultitasking has always been a key selling point in Android, and according to Google, Ice Cream Sandwich will help users more easily find applications that were previously open, thanks to the Recent Apps button. In addition, thumbnail images of recently used applications will help users determine what to open and when.
New Home Screen FoldersiOS 4 and iOS 5 users are quite pleased with home screen folders, since they make it easy to group programs with others. In Ice Cream Sandwich, Google is bringing home screen folders to users, which, like iOS’ option, let users group programs together. It might not be groundbreaking, but it’s an important step in making Android more appealing.
More Useful Lock ScreenAndroid’s lock screen has always been somewhat useless. But in Ice Cream Sandwich, the screen will let users open up the camera to take a picture or access the notifications window to see what’s happening elsewhere on the device. Music tracks can also be managed from the lock screen.
People AppOne of the nicest features in Windows Phone 7 is People Hub, an application that lets users stay up to date with their friends and contacts on social networks from the device. Ice Cream Sandwich will come with a similar feature offering the same functionality. Microsoft says that Android’s feature is “flattering,” but if it’s better than Windows Phone 7’s option, will the company still feel that way?
(Much) Better BrowsingAndroid has always been a fine platform for Web browsing, but Google has upped the ante with Ice Cream Sandwich. The operating system’s browser will now support full desktop versions of Web pages, and users can set preferences for each browser tab. Offline reading is also available. Best of all, the browser has a more-than 220 percent benchmark advantage over the browser in Android 2.3. Not bad.
Improved E-mailAccording to Google, in Ice Cream Sandwich, using the service’s e-mail program is much easier than before. The service will support “quick responses” that can be stored in the application for easy answers to e-mails received often. For the corporate world, the application also comes with EAS certificate authentication.
A Google Wallet GuaranteeEarlier this year when Google launched its mobile-payment solution Wallet, the company said that it would be coming to all future Android phones. Thanks to Ice Cream Sandwich, that will be possible. The platform will support the software and the devices running the OS will come with a near-field communication chip. Keep that in mind when choosing which Android device to buy.
Face UnlockFor those that are extra concerned about security, Ice Cream Sandwich comes with a feature, called Face Unlock. The service registers a person’s face, and when turned on, only that person can unlock the device. It’s similar to biometric fingerprint scanning, but with the face.
Android BeamIn addition to Google Wallet, a new feature called Android Beam will also utilize NFC communication in Ice Cream Sandwich. That feature will allow users to share content across two NFC-enabled devices to share apps, contacts, music, and videos, Google says.