Smartphones

What to expect in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Jack Wallen takes a look at what we can all expect from the next flavor of Android.

The next Android OS -- 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich -- is going to have the best of 2.0 and 3.0 on the world's fastest growing smartphone. However, the tablet interface is quite a bit better than the smartphone iteration. That, of course, doesn't mean 4.0 will have everything on the desktop the tablet has, but the smartphone version of the Android desktop will get a much-needed face lift.

Let's take a look at what we can all expect from the next flavor of Android.

Multitasking

This is one of the best improvements Android smartphone users will appreciate. Instead of the 2.0 take on multitasking, Android for the smartphone will gain a big plus by improving multitasking by behaving similarly to that of the tablet. Instead of long-pressing the home button to bring up a list of most recently used applications, just tap the multitasking button to reveal all currently opened apps and select the app you want to bring to the fore.

Widgets

Another outstanding feature, coming over from the tablet interface, is the ability to resize widgets. In the 2.x version of Android, widgets could not be resized. Yes, some widgets offered various sizes to add to the desktop, but even that could be limiting. Now, however, a widget can be placed on a desktop and then resized to precisely fit the desktop in exactly the way you want it.

Better spell checking

Predictive typing tends to get in my way. This is especially true after a while of the keyboard learning of my mistakes. Well, 4.0 adds a new spell checker into the mix to attempt to improve this feature. This spell check will work across applications (and is not limited to only SMS messaging).

Screenshots

Finally. No more using the Dalvek Debug tool or rooting a phone just to be able to get screenshots. Now, all you will have to do is press the home button and the volume down button to save a snapshot of your screen.

Camera

One of the faults I have endured with Android is the remarkably slow response of the camera. Well, with 4.0, the camera response time is instant. The instant reaction is not associated with the amount of time the camera app opens, but how quickly the picture is taken after pressing the shutter button.

Notifications

The smartphone version will not benefit from the amazing notifications found on the tablet. But even without that great system, the notification system on the smartphone version of 4.0 will get some nice improvements. One of the major improvements is that notifications can be seen without having to unlock the phone. The current iteration allows you to see that you have a notification but not the contents. The upgrade will allow for the viewing of the contents of the notification.

Copy/paste

Finally, copy and paste will be even easier. All you will need to do is highlight the text to be copied and drag the text to where you want it.

Data Tracking Tool

This will come in handy for anyone that needs to keep constant track of their data. The tool will tell you exactly which apps are using how much data. That way, when you're going beyond your plan's allotted data, you can easily figure out why!

Other minor updates:

  • The home screen can now span the entire device
  • No more physical home, back, menu, and search buttons -- these buttons are now virtual
  • Deleting an item or dismissing a notification is as simple as a swipe to the right
  • Calendar is now zoomable
  • Voicemail shows up in a call log
  • Voice mail can be sped up or slowed down
  • Sync contact information (including HighRes pictures) from social networks
  • Facial recognition login
  • Beam web pages, contacts, and directions using Near Field Communication (NFC)
  • New semi-circular HD optimized font: Roboto to make screen even easier to read
  • Pan your camera to capture single motion panoramic photos
  • Built-in filters for easy editing of photos after capture
  • Out of the box speech-to-text input
  • Reject an incoming call with a custom message
  • Set data usage restrictions to help prevent overages on carriers with limits
  • Gmail upgrade allows swiping through new messages

The upgrades to Android 4.0 will be significant to the end user. The new Android interface will not only be better looking, it will be more user friendly and even more flexible. The details on the when are sketchy, but it will be in 2012. It's also anyone's guess as to which carrier will start getting the updates first, but I'm fairly confident that AT&T will be somewhere around dead last.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

26 comments
Gerbilferrit
Gerbilferrit

..which current features will have new bugs that weren't in the previous version???

ArthurElizondo
ArthurElizondo

Gingerbread 2.3 didn't work on the LG Optimus S 670, from Sprint. Will the Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 work on this phone? I am stuck with Android 2.2 at this time. P.S. LG Optimus is not able to use/install Adobe Flash player. Does the Ice Cream Sandwich fix this issue?

SouthernBear
SouthernBear

Tom, try the app Calendar Pad (free). It will do month view among others!

Tom Goetz
Tom Goetz

how about fixing the calendar so that you can pick the default view on selection, I want month view upon opening, please

schwak
schwak

Why dont they call it android 4S

Galane
Galane

Does ICS actually UPLOAD data such as contacts to a Google account? Currently with 2.x the user has to export contacts as a .vcf file then go to their Google account with a web browser and import the .vcf file. I know it's possible to directly upload contact data because I used a command line JAVA applet called Palmreader to convert and upload contacts data to Google from Palm Desktop's address file. So why can't Android do that? What about backing up contact images and ringtone assignments? And what about making certain the Market actually remembers all your apps, like Amazon's appstore does? I need to find a way to make that forget some free apps I didn't like after downloading. Perhaps Amazon could borrow that from Google...

erwan10
erwan10

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shahemail
shahemail

What is the plan for IPv6 USGv6 certification? And ISATAP tunnel support? Which version will support this?

Grika
Grika

Is it too much to hope that the shovelware that came with the phone (like f-ing NASCAR) can finally be deleted?!?

k_indy
k_indy

Out of the box speech-to-text input Reject an incoming call with a custom message Screen Shot Unless this was exclusive to Galaxy S phones, I already have these features and I'm running froyo, not even gingerbread...

afedwin
afedwin

In this version of Android can one record the FM radio live without resorting to any third-party applications?

Jambotech
Jambotech

Will we finally get Cisco IPSec functionality to allow secure communication with an enterprise network using Cisco routers?

cbslc
cbslc

Will this fix activesync so it actually syncs my trash and other folders correctly instead of leaving me thousands of messages to manually delete (ONE BY ONE) in my trash? This is a serious security risk that anyone who gets any sort of private emails needs to be aware of and google needs to fix in the default email package!

parrotshark
parrotshark

Will the next version give me back my alarm and timer function?

Gr8Music
Gr8Music

I hear there's security issues already...

dl_wraith
dl_wraith

unless I'm reading you wrong here I'd say that uploading/syncing automatically to my google gmail account works fine. I keep the sync function turned on and whenever I create or modify a contact the relevant contact within my Gmail account is automatically updated to reflect this. I've even wiped my phone and found that within a few minutes my contact information re-appears on the blanked phone as the sync function fetches the info from my Gmail account. I've even logged in with my account at an alternative device and found my contact info downloading within minutes. This is out of the box functionality and has worked fine on my handsets since version 1.6. Forgive me if I've got the wrong end of the stick on what you meant there.

bsharpe37
bsharpe37

If you turn S-Off and Root, you can use a variety of root only applications that remove the bloatware you select. Like Titanium Backup - Make a backup of the software and remove it. Use clockwork mod and image over a new ROM or the New Android OS without having to wait for you Wireless Carrier to Update it for you.

Lucky2BHere
Lucky2BHere

Even if they time-bomb the bloatware, or allow it to be ignored when there's an update, that would be a great improvement. But, it's my phone, dammit, and I should be able to take off and put on what I want. That is not too much to ask!

Fletchguy
Fletchguy

Probably not as technically thats illegal and regualted by the fcc. Its redistribution without permission or grant so 3rd party most likely only way.

md345
md345

No, but it Android weren't so fragmented you'd have Cisco AnyConnect SSL VPN as you do if you have an Android device from Samsung. https://market.android.com/details?id=com.cisco.anyconnect.vpn.android&hl=en IPsec isn't the best technology for client devices because it is not ideal to have an app that does layer three IP stuff. SSL is upper layer and lighter weight, very important for mobile devices, but not insignificant even for normal desktops. I'd guess Apple will drop IPsec from iOS by iOS 6. Better to farm it all out to Cisco and get your VPN client out of the app store as with AnyConnect. They just couldn't do that in 08 with iOS 2 so Cisco and Apple did a joint venture so the iPhone could do IPsec and be relevant within the enterprise. No need for that anymore. SSL VPN is the current state of the art for clients, though IPsec will continue indefinitely for site-to-site type stuff. Now if you root your Android phone, there is an AnyConnect for rooted phones that works on much more than Samsung. Android fragmentation.

Fletchguy
Fletchguy

What version and device are you on that you lost your alarm and timer? I have it in froyo ,gingerbread and honeycomb??

Galane
Galane

All I know on it is that on my Epic 4G that had FroYo out of the box it never uploaded my contacts to my Google account even though I had the synchronization turned on. It still doesn't upload new contacts after updating to Gingerbread. After getting them straightened out, I put a new contact on my phone then waited, and waited, and waited some more. I didn't upload to Google. I put a new contact on Google and in about 5 seconds it was on my phone. I've searched the web and many Android users have this same problem, they have to export their contacts then import them to Google. Since I'd rooted FroYo I had to use Odin to reflash it with stock 2.1 EC05 then install the Gingerbread 2.3.5 EI22 update. I used an app that was supposed to be able to backup contacts and apps (not one that required a rooted OS) but it could not import to GB what it had exported from FroYo. I'd read lots of places that Android by default uploaded Contact info to Google, just one of the reasons why you have to have a Google account with an Android device. Had I known it wasn't actually working as claimed I'd have done more research into other methods like doing the export. What saved me a bunch of work re-entering my contacts was a commandline Java applet called palmreader, which decoded my contacts from Palm Desktop and uploaded them to my Google account.

jamesdelmul
jamesdelmul

Make sure when you are creating the contact on the device that you select Google contact rather then phone contact. It looks different depending on what version you are running but I am thinking that maybe you are creating phone contacts (which will not sync to Gmail) rather then Google contacts