Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet to Get Android 4.0 in May

Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet will get an upgrade to Google's latest Android 4.0 OS starting in May, Lenovo said on Monday.

The update to Android 4.0, code-named Ice Cream Sandwich, has features such as a faster browser, voice recognition and face recognition, a Lenovo spokeswoman said. The update will be delivered over-the-air to ThinkPad Tablets.

Besides being faster, the browser also saves Web pages that can be accessed when Internet connectivity is not available.

The new voice-input feature allows users to dictate text to the tablet. Possible dictation errors are highlighted in gray and underlined as the voice-input engine enters text. Users can then tap the underlined words to replace them from a list of suggestions.

Face Unlock, a face-recognition feature that can unlock a tablet, will also be new. A front-facing camera and facial-recognition software combine to unlock the tablet after verifying a face registered during tablet setup. A similar feature is already available on Lenovo's laptops.

Designed for both smartphones and tablets, Android 4.0 OS also includes user interface, connectivity, application and multimedia improvements. The OS improves encryption layers for data and email security, and improved management capabilities help system administrators better control tablets remotely.

However, the upgrade may not enable specific features such as Android Beam, which uses NFC (near field communications) technology to share content, maps and directions by simply tapping the tablets. The ThinkPad Tablet does not have NFC hardware yet.

The tablet was announced in July last year and is targeted at businesses. It currently runs Android 3.1 and retails starting at US$479.

Some companies are already delivering Android 4.0 upgrades to tablets. Asus is already delivering upgrades over-the-air to Asus' Eee Pad Transformer Prime tablets, and Samsung has said it would deliver OS upgrades in the first quarter this year.

Though the Android 4.0 upgrade is being delivered later than rivals, the Lenovo spokeswoman said the company will "future proof" its tablets by consistently delivering newer Android releases.

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