(Preview) Google’s Android Ice Cream Sandwich: An Opening Look at the New OS
With Google having just unveiled its new Ice Cream Sandwich operating system alongside Samsung’s Nexus Prime, the IBTimes takes you through some of the coolest new features set to be featured on the new OS. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

With Google having just unveiled its new Ice Cream Sandwich operating system alongside Samsung's Nexus Prime, the IBTimes takes you through some of the coolest new features set to be featured on the new OS.


One of the smallest but weirdly most noticeable changes in Ice Cream Sandwich is its new typeface, Roboto. The new OS version's entire interface uses the new typeface and despite seeming like a minor addition, in the OS' demos, 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 it's on whenever the user holds down the power and volume buttons.

Improved Internet, Gmail and Calendar

Ice Cream Sandwich boasts several improvements to the OS Internet, Gmail and calendar 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 saw a reworked interface with two-line e-mail 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 e-mails.

Best of all, Ice Cream Sandwich will reportedly allow users to search their e-mail offline. The feature will reportedly start out set to record only the last 30 days of e-mail, though Google did promise users could set their device to grant them access to longer periods, should they so wish -- no exact limit was specified during the event.

The additions to calendar were less impressive, with the new OS simply improving the user's ability to pinch-to-zoom between events.

Face Unlock

One of the few Ice Cream Sandwich features which failed to work during the event, 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. Unfortunately, when Google tried to demo the feature, the phone failed to recognise anyone -- a problem the representative blamed on his "thick" makeup.

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.

The feature was shown allowing users to see and set limits on how much data each individual app was using.

Photo and video

Ice Cream Sandwich was shown packing 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 an improved photo editing suite. The demo at the event showed the OS applying pre-loaded filters, resizing and adjusting the angle on a number of images.

Ice Cream Sandwich was also shown to house new continuous autofocus, zoom while recording and time lapse options for video.

The new People app

Following the bandwagon belief that people want to know every detail of the lives of their friends, family and even colleagues, Ice Cream Sandwich will also boast an improved People app.

Marketed as an "evolution of contacts," the new feature will allow users to integrate all their contacts' social networking accounts into their contact page. This means 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 shown at the unveiling, 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 was shown sending everything from photos and contacts to Web pages and YouTube videos. The demo showed the data transfer to be almost instantaneous.

Ice Cream Sandwich will be available to the public in November alongside the Nexus Prime. Check back at the IBTimes closer to the time for a hands-on preview of the new OS.