Even though we knew just about everything there was to know about the Galaxy Nexus by the time it was announced last night, the real mystery was in the next version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich.Google was able to get most of the spotlight during the keynote, giving us a step by step guide to Ice Cream Sandwich.
ICS has a fresh new look that helps make it a lot more user friendly than previous Android versions.
You’ll have to wait until November to try Ice Cream Sandwich for yourself, but for now check out Google’s full feature tour of its new mobile OS.
First, the philosophy behind Ice Cream Sandwich. Google tackled criticisms about Android and tried to make it easier to use this time around.
The home screen has a brand new look. The Google search widget at the top is see through, just like the one in Honeycomb for tablets. Since the Galaxy Nexus doesn't have buttons, Ice Cream Sandwich adds virtual function buttons at the bottom of the screen. These disappear when they're not needed. (Like when you're watching video, for example.)
There's also a new dock at the bottom of the screen that you can use to store your favourite apps. It's fully customisable.
Folders have always been around, but with ICS they're easier to make and look a lot better. Just drag apps on top of each other to place them in a new folder. It's the exact same process as making folders in iOS.
Multitasking got a welcome overhaul. By tapping the function button on the bottom right, you get this nice list view of your open apps.
Finally! Google added the ability to take screengrabs with ICS. We've been waiting for this forever.
Here's a look at the new notifications centre. You can close individual notifications by swiping across them.
Now notifications are available from the lock screen too. Just pull down the menu from the bar at the top.
The Ice Cream Sandwich keyboard got a nice update too. Text prediction and spell check are a lot better.
We love the new copy and paste function too. Now you can highlight a word and drag it where you want it to go.
Voice dictation is still here with some minor improvements. Just talk to type. It even recognises emoticons!
Ice Cream Sandwich uses facial recognition to keep your phone locked. If a stranger tries to get in, the camera won't unlock the phone for him. It only recognises YOU.
Android's browser got a few nice tweaks too. The new tabs system looks a lot like app multitasking. You get these gorgeous thumbnails of each page you have open.
Tired of getting mobile sites all the time? This drop down menu lets you view the full desktop version.
The Gmail app got some nice tweaks too. You now get a two-line summary of each message along with a new, simple action bar at the bottom.
Google also included a new wireless data management tool. You can view how much data you've used each billing cycle and set caps so you don't go over. You can also see which apps are using the most data.
You can access the camera app from the lock screen. Just slide the lock to the left instead of the right. (This is a lot easier than iOS' method.)
Finally, here's Android Beam. This service works with phones that have an NFC chip. By bumping phones together you can share websites, apps, contact information, you name it. The API is open to developers, so we're expecting to see some great things coming from Beam in the future.
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