September 23, 2008, Android 1.0, the first commercial version of Android is released. Just over 3 years later, October 19, 2011, after evolving from Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, and Honeycomb, not including Astro and Bender, Ice Cream Sandwich was announced. Along the way, Android put out loads of features and took in some 200+ million users. Today, we’re going to be breaking down two of the newest, and arguably best, Android versions (Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich). Obviously, a winner has already been chosen for this Versus Match. However, look at the competition as more of a comparison and evolution of Android.
UI (User Interface)
It is hard to miss the fact that Google was going for an improved User Interface with Ice Cream Sandwich. Just from taking a look at the search bar, you can tell that Ice Cream Sandwich is much sleeker than Gingerbread. Mainly, Ice Cream Sandwich will make it easier for users to find those common buttons and actions that were always playing hide and go seek in older Android versions. Furthermore, the animations and “typeface” have been refined to play nicely with your new 720p HD display. Furthermore, Ice Cream Sandwich introduces the new font “Roboto”. This Google creation will make reading easier and give Android a more modern feel.
By far, the most visible interface on any device is the font you read everything from websites, to emails, to SMS’ on. With Android 4.0, Google has designed a font completely from the ground up, and it looks exceptional. Dubbed Roboto, it’s a font built with modernity in mind, and looks great.
With a heavy dose of the use of intuitive gestures, and the ability for developers to add them too, Ice Cream Sandwich really is as silky smooth as its name implies.
Multitasking, Widgets, and Folders
Two of Android’s most notable and original features are Multitasking and Widgets. Therefore, Ice Cream Sandwich will be bringing new meaning to both of those features with some key upgrades.
First, the Recent Apps button lets users jump instantly from one task to another using the list in the System Bar. The list that pops up should be very familiar to Honeycomb users. Furthermore, the list will show you a thumbnail image of whats going on inside of that app for easy app-switching. If you want to get rid of recent app, just toss it away with a finger swipe.
Note! this swiping feature also works with browser tabs and notifications.
In addition, Ice Cream Sandwich now enables users to re-seize their widgets. Want a full page dedicated to Gmail? Go for it! Finally, Android 4.0 borrows iOS’s folder creation method of drag and drop. Therefore, all you have to do to create a folder is pick up and app, and throw it onto another one.
Network Data Manager
Wireless providers are starting to charge their customers an arm and a leg for less and less data. Thankfully, Google has provided us with a solution. The new Data usage controls allow for constant monitoring of your total usage by network type and application. In addition, it adds the ability to set limits on those data-hungry apps.
This is one of the more welcome additions to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as it gives you the complete breakdown on what your most data hungry apps are, which can end up saving you a lot of money. Definitely not something the carriers are looking forward to, but consider this a win for you, the consumer. Plus, it displays all of the info an easy to understand and beautiful graph, too.
Now that Social Networks are destined to completely take over our lives, Android has adapted to make sharing a heck of a lot easier. First, Ice Cream Sandwich will introduce a whole new way to look at your friends.
Android 2.3’s contact list was known for being extremely boring. The new People app in Android 4.0 offers richer profile information, including a large profile picture, phone numbers, addresses and accounts, status updates, events, and a new button for connecting on integrated social networks.
But what happens when you want to send something to the person sitting right next to you instantly?! Well, with Gingerbread, you email it to them. In Ice Cream Sandwich, simply touch phones, and given that you have an NFC-capable device, voila! The guy next to you is watching the exact video or playing the same game as you are. Furthermore, Google has left this feature open to developers. Therefore, passing game scores, initiating a multiplayer game or chat, and more just got a lot easier.
Camera and Video
Live Effects are a collection of graphical transformations that allow you to turn your friend into an alien, put them on the moon, or more all from the Camera app. For example, users can change the background behind them to any stock or custom image, for just the right setting when shooting video. Also available is “Silly Faces”, a set of morphing effects that transform facial features. For example, you can use effects such as small eyes, big mouth, big nose, face squeeze, and more. Into video chatting? All of this can be done in the Google Talk app as well.
Do you hate it when friends get into your phone? But at the same time, setting a password stops you from getting into your phone fast. Google has come to the rescue with a new revolutionary feature called Face Unlock. It is exactly what you think it is, face recognition lets you unlock your phone with your face.
Furthermore, Ice Cream Sandwich makes email better by adding improved auto-completion, quick responses, an integrated menu, nested mail subfolders, and as mentioned before, a resizable Email widget.
Wi-Fi Direct: will make instant sharing of files, photos, or other media; streaming video or audio from another device; or connecting to compatible printers or other devices all possible for Ice Cream Sandwich devices.
Bluetooth Health Device Profile (HDP): will allow for connecting to wireless medical devices and sensors in hospitals, fitness centers, homes, and elsewhere with some help from third party application developers.
Key Android 3.x developer features, now for phones too
- Fragments and content loaders
- Resizeable home screen widgets
- Rich notifications
- Multi-selection, drag-drop, clipboard
- Improved screen-support API
- Hardware-accelerated 2D graphics
Graphics and animation
- Property-based animation
- Renderscript 3D graphics
Media and connectivity
- HTTP Live streaming
- Bluetooth A2DP and HSP devices
- Support for RTP
- MTP/PTP file transfer
- DRM framework
- Input from keyboard, mouse, gamepad, joystick
- Full device encryption
- DPM policies for encrypted storage and passwords
As you can tell, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has added quite a large amount of new features. With that being said, Android 4.0 will be eliminating many of the problems that users had with older versions while also adding loads of new features, and innovation for developers. Ice Cream Sandwich made its debut on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. However, it is far from limited to this device. Any device that comes out after, or relatively close behind, October 19th 2011 (ICS Release Date) is almost guaranteed the upgrade to 4.0. Furthermore, tons of Gingerbread devices will be getting the call for an upgrade in the near future.
Also, let’s not forget it’s already starting to trickle into all sorts of devices like the Kindle Fire, the Asus Transformer, and many, many more. Google has released the source, and it’s likely this will herald an entirely new generation of useful devices in the near future.
For a full list of new Android 4.0 features for users and developers, click here.
[UPDATE] Jelly Bean is out! Make sure to check our new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich vs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean video comparison, to see the latest features of Android!