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The latest update to Google's mobile operating system called Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has just been officially announced and previewed in an event in Hong Kong.
As earlier predicted by TP and other tech blogs, Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be the first phone to run Android 4.0 OS. As yet, we don't have the exact release date and official pricing details of this handset for the Philippines. Keep tuning in for updates.
So what are new features and upgrades we can expect from Ice Cream Sandwich? Well, we can expect 8 key changes:
1. User Interface Enhancements - The OS now uses a new default font called ROBOTO, which Google claims to be made for high-resolution displays. The green default color of some elements in the status of Android Froyo and Gingerbread has been changed and upgraded in favor of BLUE. Ice Cream also takes advantage of virtual buttons, which are the quite similar to those found in Android 3.0 Honeycomb; With this, Android 4.0 smartphones can sport a 'buttonless' face, which supposedly makes it easier and faster to navigate. Supposedly.
2. Folders - Ice Cream Sandwich lets you create folders for apps and files right on the homepage. Some say that this is a feature copied from iOS. I say it's nothing new.
3. Face Unlock - Again, this is nothing new. We've seen this technology in Lenovo laptops from a few years back. What it does it that it uses the front-facing camera to recognize your face and - if it works as it should - it will unlock your phone accordingly.
4. Native Camera App Improvements - The new camera application now supports panaroma shots, image manipulation right from the camera, and instagram-like effects called Hipster Filters.
5. People App - Basically, this is exactly like HTC Sense's People widget and Friend Stream. So it's nothing HTC users haven't seen before. Anyway. People App presents all of your friends from social networking sites in a grid and shows you quite everything your friends have shared in their social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
6. New Phone Application - The basic functionality, of course, remains the same but the interface now looks sleeker, supposedly. Oh, there's a new feature called Visual Voicemail, which simply shows you the faces of people who've sent you voice mails, making it easier to pick out which ones to listen to first.
7. Android Beam - Again, we've seen this. Nokia is practically the first company to introduce NFC capability in their handsets a few years back. (I've also tested a similar feature using Nokia N9 and Nokia 701 with Nokia Play 360 Wireless Speaker.) RIM eventually followed suit with BlackBerry Tag. Anyway. Android Bean is an NFC-powered feature that lets NFC-capable Android 4.0 handsets to connect to each other wirelessly and share apps and other content.
8. Data Usage Graph and Data Limiter Built-in! - The revamped Wireless and Networks hub now has this Data Usage Graph showing you just how much mobile data you've used and even comes with Data Limiter, which cuts data once you've hit a certain limit, helping you avoid over-use charges. This is great. At least, users don't have to download a separate application from the Android Market to do that.
So there. Looking forward to reviewing the platform soon.