Friday, October 14, 2011

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: everything you need to know

     Google dropped some interesting information about Ice Cream Sandwich, the next version of Android - Android 4.0 at its Google I/O conference back n May. We now know that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will be announced at a Google event on 19 October. A video of an Ice Cream Sandwich sculpture at Google's HQ confirms the 19 October launch for the new OS.

The Android 4.0 launch takes place at 10AM Hong Kong time (3AM UK time), and was posted on Google's brand new @Android Twitter account. The Samsung-built 4.7-inch, 1.5GHz dual-core

Nexus Prime is the likely partner handset, but we don't know a Nexus Prime UK release date as yet.

It will be a single 4.0 version of Android running across phones and tablets, unlike Android 3.0 Honeycomb that only runs on tablets.

That's why it's a Sandwich y'see.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich interface
Ice Cream Sandwich will bring all the interface loveliness of Android 3.0 Honeycombto Android smartphones. Android phone users will get the updated app launcher, holographic user interface, interactive and new homescreen widgets plus the multi-tasking panel.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich features
Google says Ice Cream Sandwich is its "most ambitious release to date" and will incorporate all the best bits of Honeycomb, the Android tablet OS, and make them useable on smartphones too.
But Ice Cream Sandwich is about more than just the user interface and it will bring all the new Android 3.1 features to phones. This new update means Android tablets will also be able to act as a USB hub and you'll be to hook up devices such as mice and keyboards and game controllers to tablets and smartphones.
On 10 October, TI refused to confirm or deny Fudzilla reports that it was the reference design for Android 4.0 would be based on their hardware.
Google is also intending to make life easier for developers by releasing a new set of APIs that will help them to scale their apps across the various sizes of Android devices - Google acknowledges that it's important for developers to be able to design apps that will work across 3.5-inch smartphones up to 10.1-inch tablets.
During the Google Google I/O keynote those on stage also showed off 3D headtracking using the front-mounted camera so you can figure out who is speaking and focus on them while on a video call. Face detection will be a key feature in the OS and we hear that you can even unlock your handset using it.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich apps
Many popular apps will get an update in time for the new OS - with a new interface expected to debut too. Interestingly, the screenshots shown here appear to have been taken on a new Samsung-built Nexus Prime.
A new Google Music app has also leaked which, although it works with earlier Android versions, is designed for Ice Cream Sandwich.
There will also be a new browser available - Google Chrome will debut on Android.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich specification
Google's Mike Claren said, "we want one OS that runs everywhere."
Smartphone users will also get an expanded multitasking tool, including a system manager that handles your open resources for you so you won't run out of memory or be prompted to quit an application on the tablet.
Android 3.1 also means you can expand the size of a scrollable home screen widget, while existing scrollable widgets can also be upgraded by devs with a couple of lines of code.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich requirements
There's no word yet on minimum hardware requirements, though this will certainly have implications for upgrading existing handsets to the
new OS. Speaking of which…

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades
Google is introducing new guidelines in which it promises OS updates for the first 18 months for existing handsets. So Ice Cream will be coming to some of the more powerful handsets released during 2011.
"Together we'll create guidelines for how quickly devices will get updated after new android platforms and for how long they'll continue to get updated.," said Google's Vic Gundotra at Google I/O.
"New devices from these partners will receive the latest Android updates for 18 months after first launch, if the hardware allows it. We think this is really great news for users, we think it's excellent for developers and really great for the entire industry."
The move is in response to accusations that Android is becoming too fragmented and it has announced an alliance of (US-only for now) networks and manufacturers who have vowed to provide more timely updates. No longer will you get left behind.
Samsung UK has also told that it is working to bring faster updates to users.
"We saw a lot of comments saying 'I want my upgrade, when do I get my upgrade?'," says Hiroshi Lockheimer, director of engineering at Google.
"There's no common expectation set of how this would work, so we can at least establish some form of expectation for the whole community - users and developers.
"We certainly want this to be an international, global thing. We announced Vodafone;you can expect another wave of announcements around that."

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is open source
Google is intending to make Ice Cream Sandwich fully open source. It didn't do this with Android 3.0 Honeycomb in an attempt to make things more consistent.
"It's more manageable to start small and get bigger," says Andy Rubin, senior vice president of Mobile at Google.
"It's an open invitation; there's no reason not to have everybody in [The Open Handset Alliance] - but I want to hit the ground running, I don't want to take a lot of time on building a list of names."

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