With Google's new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich launching today alongside Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, the IBTimes takes you through some of the key new features housed in the new OS.


One of the smallest but weirdly most noticeable changes in Ice Cream Sandwich is its new type-set, "Roboto." The new OS version's entire interface uses the new type-set and despite seeming like a minor addition, in our brief play with the new Nexus, Roboto was far clearer than the lettering used in previous Android versions.

New Widgets

As has been the case with all Android updates, the new version worked to improve the user's ability to manage and use widgets, adding the ability to manage them using folders.

In Ice Cream Sandwich, users' widgets are now scrollable and resizable. The OS also keeps the same drag-and-drop feature introduced in Honeycomb.

The improved folder mechanic allows users to place and organise apps within specific folders. An app draw icon at the bottom of the OS UI also allows users to neatly drop up to four folders into a shortcut tray next to the call and menu buttons.

Screen grab

Letting users immortalise their Angry Birds score, Ice Cream Sandwich also boasts the ability to take screen grabs. The new OS version will take a snap of whichever screen its on whenever the user holds down the power and volume buttons.

Improved Internet, Gmail

Ice Cream Sandwich boasts several improvements to the OS internet, Gmail and calender services.

The new internet service allows users to have 16 tabs open at any one time. Additionally, the browser now has a new "request desktop version" that allows users to see web-pages as they would be displayed on a full-blown computer.

Even better for Chrome users, the new browser was shown automatically syncing bookmarks with a PC running the Chrome browser.

The new Gmail houses a re-worked interface with two-line email previews and a new "action bar" at the bottom of the interface offering users various different options. The OS was shown also letting users select multiple emails.

Face Unlock

One of the few Ice Cream Sandwich features which we didn't get a chance to play with, the new Face Unlock feature, is intended to lock the phone to its owner's face.

The feature will reportedly allow users to register their face to the device, meaning that instead of using gestures to unlock their phone, they will simply have to look into the camera.

Data tracking

Without a doubt one of Ice Cream Sandwich's most pragmatic new features, the new data tracking service, will do exactly what it says on the box, allowing users to chart and control their device's data usage.

Photo and Video

Ice Cream Sandwich packs a host of improved video and photo features. As well as adding a new panorama shot feature, in the OS' demo, Ice Cream Sandwich was shown instantly uploading photos to user's Google+ account.

Additionally the new Android version also boasts a new improved photo editing suite, letting users apply pre-loaded filters, resize and adjust the angle of images.

Ice Cream Sandwich also houses new continuous autofocus, zoom while recording and time lapse options for video.

The New People App

Following the band-wagon belief that people want to know every detail of their friends, family and even colleagues' lives, Ice Cream Sandwich will also boast a new improved People App.

Marketed as an "evolution of contacts" the new feature allows users to integrate all their contacts' social networking accounts into their contact page. Meaning that users will be able to see the contacts' Facebook and Twitter accounts and updates all on one page.

Android Beam

Without a doubt the coolest feature, the new Android Beam feature uses NFC technology to let users send data to other Ice Cream Sandwich smartphones simply by placing the two devices back-to-back.

Beam lets users send everything from photos and contacts to web-pages and YouTube videos.

Ice Cream Sandwich launched in the UK today -- 17 November -- alongside the Galaxy Nexus. Check back at the IBTimes later in the month for a full review of the two new products.