Android 4.0, the latest update to the Android operating system known by most as Ice Cream Sandwich, has made huge waves in the world of mobile technology. Unlike previous versions of the operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich will be available across all Android devices. In the new release, Google has taken the best components of previous versions of Android and combined them to create one awesome Android OS across all platforms.

Current Android users are clamoring to find out when they'll be able to test the update and, although there's little information about when updates will be released to existing devices, Google has released information about new functions, designs and animations available in Ice Cream Sandwich. Here are our favorite upgrades included in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich:

Notification Menu
Notifications are the centerpiece to any mobile experience and, since the initial release, Android has done a fantastic job at making notifications easy to access. The drop-down menu featured at the top of the screen was so successful, it prompted Apple to add the capability to iOS phones.

The notifications drop-down menu will be even better on Ice Cream Sandwich. The update allows users to access notifications from the locked screen menu. That means fewer buttons separating you from that all-important email just sent to your phone.

In addition, you can clear specific notifications from the drop-down menu by flicking them off the screen to the right. The flicking feature is available in several other places on the operating system including the internet browser updates and Gmail updates.

Text input
Typing accuracy is one of the biggest problems among anyone that's new to touchscreen smartphones. Android currently tries to combat texting problems by suggesting similarly spelt words and by auto-correcting words that aren't in the phone's dictionary.

Texting will become much easier on Android Ice Cream Sandwich because of several updates. The most noticeable is that the slight tweak in the keyboard design. The keyboard appears to make better use of the screen real estate by removing the emoticon button and by using other small tweaks.

The most significant advanced feature that's been added is the in-line spell-checker. If a user holds their finger on a misspelled word, the word will be highlighted and a drop-down menu will be displayed. In the menu, the user can choose from suggesedt words to correct the misspelling or add the word to the device's dictionary. Copy and paste options have been updated in a similar fashion: If the user holds their finger down on a specific word, a drop-down menu will appear and give the user the option to copy or paste.

Previous versions of Android did not feature drop-down menus. Instead, a menu would pop up and cover the entire screen, blinding users from the text they've actually highlighted. Ice Cream Sandwich enables users to edit text while the type more easily.

Face Recognition
We're not exactly sure how seamlessly this will work, considering it backfired during the presentation, but Ice Cream Sandwich will let users unlock their phones by just looking at it. The new Android OS can detect your face from another person's, which makes it just about the easiest phone to unlock.

Gmail's New Look
If you're an Android user, it's safe to say you're using Gmail, and in the new Android update, Gmail is looking sharper than ever. The UI has been tweaked to give users a two-line preview of the messages in their inbox, plus conversations are more clearly organized by using more colorful borders between each message. There's also better functionality because of an added action bar at the bottom of the screen, so users don't have to navigate through a menu to compose an email or perform other common tasks. The new swiping feature appears again here: Gmail allows you to swipe left or right in order to view previous or newer emails.

Again, Ice Cream Sandwich makes it easier for users to get from the locked screen to performing a function. There's less clicking and tapping throughout the new system.

Widgets Can Be Resized
Now that homepage widgets can be resized, the function of an Android smartphones homepage has been completely redefined. Widgets such as the Google Calendar can be sized to take up a whole homepage, revealing several events in advance, or sized to reveal only one event at a time. The homepage is no longer a stagnant place for application icons to sit. The option to resize widgets encourages users to use their homepages as a place to keep software running. Again, here's another feature that makes accessibility to applications and information on Ice Cream Sandwich seamless.

Data Usage Tracked
Since Sprint is the only company that stills offers an unlimited data plan, it's great that Ice Cream Sandwich allows users to keep track of the data used on the phone. This can be especially helpful for those on a tiered data plan, which seems to keep increasing as time goes on. Now you can have a good estimate of what your phone bill will cost you before the month ends.

Screenshots
After seeing screenshots from iPhones for several years, Ice Cream Sandwich will finally allow Android users to take screenshots of their phone easily and quickly. Now you can hold down the power button and the volume-down button in order to save a screenshot. This function is superb for referencing conversations or just about anything that happens on your phone.

Internet Browsing
Browsing  the internet is one of the main reasons people switch over to touchscreen smartphones, and Ice Cream Sandwich has recognized that. The Android browser now allows users to open 16 different tabs at a time and, in order to close one, you can flick it off of the new scrolling menu of pages that's been added to the browser. In addition, Google Chrome will allow you to sync bookmarks to your phone, in case you'd like to finish reading something from your phone at your home computer or vice-versa.