Google announced the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, its new operating system set to run on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, on Wednesday to compete against Apple's iOS 5 operating system and iPhone 4S.
Both Google and Samsung are looking to beat Apple in an area that it is now succeeding. You see, the Ice Cream Sandwich was created to do what Apple has already perfected: unifying its iPhones, iPads and iPods with its iOS operating system. The Ice Cream Sandwich Google will do the same for Android-run smartphones and tablets. And the new features of Android 4.0 are certainly more impressive than those of its predecessors Gingerbread and Honeycomb.
Android 4.0 builds on the things people love most about Android - efficient multitasking, rich notifications, customizable home screens, resizable widgets, and deep interactivity - and adds powerful new ways of communicating and sharing, according to Android Developers blog. It includes many great features for users, including social and sharing integration, network data usage control, innovative connectivity and camera options, and an updated set of standard apps.
But are those features good enough to take out the Apple's iOS5 or will the Ice Cream Sandwich melt once it's released with the Galaxy Nexus in November and the competition gets underway?
Here the features of the Ice Cream Sandwich so you can decide.
- Evolved UI: Now users can navigate with simple, intuitive gestures. Google noted that there are refine animations and feedback throughout the system making interactions engaging and interesting. Ice Cream Sandwich comes with a new typeface that's been optimized for high-resolution screens to improve readability. There are virtual buttons in the System Bar that let users navigate instantly to Back, Home, and Recent Apps. The System Bar and virtual buttons can be seen across all apps, but can be dimmed by applications for full-screen viewing.
- Multitasking: Android 4.0 is making multitasking much easier, as the Recent Apps button lets users jump instantly from one task to another using the list in a System Bar. The list shows thumbnail images of apps that were recently used and by tapping a thumbnail it switches to the app.
- Notifications: this lets users know when there are incoming messages, as well as play music tracks and see real-time updates from apps to name a few. If users are using a smaller-screen device, notifications will show at the top of the screen, but on larger-screen devices they appear in the System Bar.
- Home screen folders, favorites tray: This lets users group their apps and shortcuts just by dragging one onto another. On smaller-screen devices the home screen will include a customizable favorites tray that can be seen from all home screens. Users can drag apps, shortcuts, folders, and other priority items in or out of the favorites tray for instant access from any home screen.
- Resizable widgets: The Home screens in Android 4.0 are designed so that users can now embed live application content directly through interactive widgets. Widgets let users check email, calendar, play music, check social streams and without launching apps. Widgets are resizable making it easier for users shrink them to save space.
- 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 listening to music, users can manage music tracks and see album art.
- Quick responses for incoming calls: When there is an incoming call users can now respond by text message without the need to pick up the call or unlock the device. When on the incoming call screen, users can just slide a control to see a list of text responses and then tap to send and end the call. Users can also add their own responses and manage the list from the Settings app.
- Improved text input and spell-checking: The error correction and word suggestion have been improved through a new set of default dictionaries and there are also improvement for handling double-typed characters, skipped letters, and omitted spaces. Word suggestion strip is simplified to show only three words at a time. Android 4.0 adds a spell-checker that locates and underlines errors and suggests replacement words.
- Powerful voice input engine: Android 4.0's new voice input engine offers a continuous open microphone experience and streaming voice recognition. With this, users can dictate the text they want, regardless of length, using the language they want.
- People and profiles: There's a new People app that offers profile information including a large profile picture, phone numbers, addresses and accounts, status updates and a new button for connecting on integrated social networks. It sorts user's own contact information in a new Me profile.
- Unified calendar, visual voicemail: This organizes your personal, work, school, and social agendas. Calendars are color-coded and users can swipe left or right to change dates and pinch to zoom in or out agendas. There is also new visual voicemail features that integrate incoming messages, voice transcriptions, and audio files from one or more providers.
- Camera capabilities: With the camera app, after capturing images, users can edit and share them easily with friends. Users can also take advantage of the continuous focus, zero shutter lag exposure and decreased shot-to-shot speed when taking photos. A Stabilized image zoom lets users compose photos and video in the way they want, including while video is recording. There is a built-in face detection that locates faces in the frame and automatically sets focus. The Camera now has a single-motion panorama mode and the Camera assembles the full range of continuous imagery into a single panoramic photo.
- Powerful Web browsing: The Android Browser lets users instantly manage and sync Google Chrome bookmarks from all of their accounts and also save it for reading later in case there's no network available.
- Improved email: Android 4.0 has an improved auto-completion of recipients helps so that users can find contacts quickly and much more improvements.
- Android Beam for NFC-based sharing: Android Beam lets users instantly exchange favorite apps, contacts, music, videos and more. There's no menu to open, application to launch, or pairing needed. Just touch one Android-powered phone to another and then tap to send.
- Face Unlock: Android 4.0 introduces lets users unlock their devices with a new Face Unlock screen-lock option. This is possible through face technology, which registers a face and to recognize it later when unlocking the device. Users can just hold their devices in front of their faces to unlock or use a backup PIN or pattern.
So what will it be? Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or the iOS 5?