Android 4.0: with Ice Cream Sandwich we will begin to love our phones

As it was marked on the calendar, Google has presented us version 4.0 of Android accompanying the Galaxy Nexus. In this article we are going to inform you about the news of the expected renewal of Google's operating system, better known as Ice Cream Sandwich, which has had Matías Duarte as its main designer, and master of ceremonies.

For those who were not aware, our colleagues from Xataka Android have spent the night reporting on the system news in rigorous live streaming.We anticipate that there are many, starting with a much more important redesign than we had experienced in previous iterations.

Can a machine have a soul?

It is not that I become transcendental, it is a slogan that appeared on one of the walls of the presentation. Android 4.0 is built under three principles in Matías' mind: that we love it, simplify life and surprise us.

For the renowned designer of the user experience of the Google system, what happened until now is that we needed Android and we were happy with it, but we had not come to respond emotionally, now we will start to want it.

For Matías, Honeycomb was an emergency landing strip, when he arrived to take command of the user experience of a platform in full success (although sales do not accompany him). With Ice Cream Sandwich they have designed something bigger, more than bringing Honeycomb to phones, or a moderate evolution of Gingerbread.

Now it is up to us to assess what level Android 4.0 is really at. It seems that from what can be verified in the first contact, they have succeeded, those who have been playing with it, assure that it is the most worked and polished Android version, improving the features that made the system succeed (multitasking, notifications , personalization and interactivity)

Update, before continuing, for those who have not had the opportunity to see the presentation this morning, I leave you with the complete official video:

Ice Cream Sandwich enters through the eyes

As long as you like the style that Honeycomb introduced for tablets (somewhat less Tron), and with a small hardware impediment that I think is important to note: from my point of view the system takes advantage of the high resolution of the phone too well (many elements in screen) with which it has been presented (1280 × 720 pixels), I would like to see how it manages with current terminals.

Before going on to play point by point, let's see official multimedia material of Ice Cream Sandwich, a video this time is worth a thousand words:

Gestures ahead of buttons

Actually, the new system takes the best of Android 2.3 and Android 3.0, combining it with a new exclusive font called Roboto, designed for comfortable reading on high-resolution screens.

Another of the novel aspects is the inclusion of virtual buttons in the system bar, allowing you to make the typical Android navigation options (back, start, recent applications). Both the system bar and the virtual buttons are present throughout the applications we use, but we can make it disappear in a full screen mode, and they also rotate depending on the orientation of the equipment. We have a third action bar contextual to the application, which usually goes at the top.

Matías has considered that gestures are much more intuitive and appropriate than buttons, and the truth is that in the end they appear everywhere. I summarize some aspects of the interface and operation of Ice Cream Sandwich:

  • The notification bar remains at the top in what we have seen for phones, with a translucent design that makes it more attractive and shows the faces of our contacts. Notifications are also accessible from the lock screen.

  • The way to create folders will remind us of iOS, we just have to drag the icon of one application on top of another.
  • At the bottom of the screen we have a bar with our favorite applications, and in the center of it, access to the application launcher.
  • The Google search bar is always present on the desktops, and an operation something like the "Just Type" of webOS has been sought.

  • Widgets can be moved and resized in true Honeycomb style.
  • It is now possible to take screenshots, it is achieved with the combination of the volume down button and the power button.
  • We have a button that opens the multitasking manager, with a representation similar to Honeycomb, but now we can delete a task with a horizontal gesture.

  • Improvements in keyboard operation, with a new system of dictionaries and recommendations. Dragging copied text is easy.
  • A new voice recognition system is introduced that corrects and underlines the dictated text in real time to avoid typing errors. With a simple touch we can see the suggestions of Android and correct it.
  • In the comments, they point out that Ice Cream Sandwich inherits hardware acceleration from Honeycomb, which we consider an improvement in power to move the interface.

A first-class web browser

Vital part in a mobile operating system, and one of the points where Google works conscientiously. I list some of the news that come to us with Ice Cream Sandwich:

  • The browser can now open up to 16 tabs at a time
  • It can be easily changed from the mobile version to the full web, a matter that some of us appreciate.
  • New visual management of the different windows
  • Better synchronization with Chrome through our Google account
  • Possibility of saving to read a page later, even if we have no connection

Improvements in page rendering performance have also undergone notable improvements, with updates to WebKit and the Javascript V8 engine:

Leveling up the main system applications

  • Gmail: the interface has been renewed, now we have up to a couple of lines in the preview that allows us not to have to open them many times. We also find a more appropriate contextual action bar, and the possibility of saving up to 30 days of messages for searches. We have a new widget for Gmail that can be resized at our whim.
  • Calendar: also updated for the occasion and like Gmail it also receives an approach to gestures.

  • Monitoring data is something that is considered vital for many users, so Google has incorporated a system that will monitor all data consumption (3G and WiFi), both by applications and in general. It will indicate the global consumption on a certain date, or we can ask you to notify us when you exceed a quantity.
  • The camera has also had its corresponding treatment, with access from the lock screen, continuous panoramic mode, and a new gallery. Perhaps the most remarkable novelty is found in the simple but effective image editor (filters, clippings, removes red eyes).

  • The new contacts application, presented in English as “People”, shows our contacts in generously sized touch panels, which give us access to each other's personal information. One of the new features is the ability to send quick messages in response to a call that we cannot answer.

Android Beam, sharing via NFC

Taking advantage of the NFC technology present in Nexus phones, and which will gradually become more important in the Android system, with Beam it is intended to make sharing information with our phones as easy as bringing them closer.

We can share from links to applications, contacts, videos or music, and without menus in which to generate the twinning between devices, just bring both devices closer with technology NFC.

Face Unlock, a very unique unlock

Face Unlock is one of the most innovative functionalities of Ice Cream Sandwich, which has also looked to improve security aspects in the system.

As you can guess, or translate, is that our lock screen is deactivated with the recognition of our face, leaving aside the old patterns or PINs. We will see how this works in practice.

Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth HDP

We are finding more and more terminals that have the WiFi Direct specification, which allows computers to be connected through the WiFi network, without the Internet having anything to do with it.

Google opens the door for developers to use this new possibility with Ice Cream Sandwich. It can be used to share data, stream video, or connect our phones to printers without the need for cables.

Android 4.0 also supports Bluetooth Health Device Profile devices (HDP), giving developers access to work wirelessly with sensors and equipment found in hospitals, sports centers, etc.

Once all the novelties have been described, and with the hope of being able to test it soon to get a real opinion of the system, we are left with an excellent taste in our mouths with this update, especially for the visual aspect achieved, the innovative new features, and the good tuning that has with the hardware of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, we will have to see how it looks in a Nexus S.

More information | Android Developers

Image | This is My Next


At Xataka Móvil | Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is official, so is its user interface

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