What’s New in Android Ice Cream Sandwich

Android 4.0, quaintly known as “Ice Cream Sandwich,” is dropping any day now—probably before mid-December—and both tablet and smartphone fans are salivating for it.

Ice Cream Sandwich will at last unify the heavily fragmented Android OS world—one for smartphones and one for tablets—into a single OS, much the way Apple’s iOS is managed. That means just about every new Android device should be “4.0-ready” when it ships, and many existing devices will be upgradeable to the new OS, too.

Aside from the convergence, here’s what else is new and exciting in 4.0:

  • An Enhanced Interface—Android has started to feel dated and a bit clunky of late. ICS puts some new paint and polish on the OS, especially making it easier to zip among running apps. The default font has also been changed to make text easier to read.

  • NFC Upgrades—ICS lets you share just about anything—maps, apps, websites—via a Near Field Communication connection with another ICS handset. It’s like the infrared “beaming” we did in the ’90s, but way faster and more secure.

  • “Siri”ous Attitude—Fans have already noted that Android’s voice command system predated Apple’s Siri by months. With ICS it gets an upgrade to make it even more useful.

  • Social Networking Integration—Your Android contacts now automatically sync up with each user’s social networking profiles, including the new Google+.

  • Face Unlock—Your phone’s camera can take a picture of your noggin to unlock the handset instead of having to use a numeric or gesture-based password. Look ma, no hands!

  • Chromed-Out—ICS’s web browser is turbocharged to look and feel more like Google’s Chrome for the desktop.

There’s more in Ice Cream Sandwich to explore once it arrives, including enhanced camera features and the ability to take screenshots without an app. I know I can’t wait. How about you?

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