24 June 2014 by Permi Krishna
Google released Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), in October 2011 as an upgrade to the Android 2.3 Gingerbread mobile operating system. While newer versions of Android are available -- 4.3 Jelly Bean and 4.4 KitKat -- ICS still accounts for about 15% of all installations of the OS. Noted for its clean interface, powerful sharing features and NFC (Near-field communications) integration, ICS is still a popular choice for Android users with slightly older model smartphones.
With the release of ICS, Google made multitasking easier and more intuitive than with previous versions of Android. Once way Google improved ICS was with the addition of support for interactive widgets. Widgets are resizable objects for the home screen that enable users to perform a multitude of tasks without having to launch an app from the Applications screen. Tasks commonly accessed with use of a widget include checking email, reviewing the calendar, playing music, streaming videos and many more. Additionally, Google improved multitasking functionality in ICS by adding support for their mobile Chrome browser, which supports up to 16 open tabs simultaneously.
With ICS, Google didn't just stop with improved multitasking. The company added many other performance and feature improvements for multimedia tasks. For instance, ICS adds enhanced camera functionality for capturing both still images and videos when compared to previous versions of Android. One such improvement is the ability to capture a still image while recording a video. If you tap the screen while recording a video on an ICS phone, the camera app will save a still photo in the image gallery.
The gallery app that displays photos also received a major upgrade in ICS. New features in the photo gallery app include support for drag-and-drop, an improved photo editor and better sharing with online and cloud services. ICS also introduced integrated screenshot captures - something many users had been requesting with previous versions.
Another area where Google made significant improvements with ICS - versus previous releases - is in syncing data across multiple devices and services. With ICS, syncing your apps, contacts, emails, photos and videos is nearly seamless and requires little intervention on your part as the user. This means your Gmail messages, contacts and other data is always up to date regardless if you log in from your phone or a computer. If you use social media services such as Facebook or Google+, your data, posts, messages uploads and other data also synchronize seamlessly and automatically.
Along with improvements for features existing in previous versions, Android ICS brought some brand new ones as well. For instance, Android Beam is an innovative NFC-based sharing feature designed to help users share data and files with other NFC-enabled devices located nearby. Android Beam offers all sorts of useful near-field network functionality with applications such as multiplayer games and chat programs (especially when no Internet or Bluetooth connection is available.) Android 4.0 ICS also introduced support for connecting to Bluetooth Health Device Profiles (HDP), which use third party applications to help users connect to wireless medical devices and sensors in hospitals, fitness centers and other locations.
Finally, Android 4.0 ICS brought us a major leap in smartphone security. The Face Unlock feature allows users to create digital captures of their faces and then use them to unlock their phones. The app uses facial-recognition technology and unlocks the phone only when it recognizes an authorized user. While pass codes and patterns can be effective phone-lock tools, Face Unlock allows users to create a truly unique unlocking method.
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