Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has been released

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has been on the horizon for months and has now finally been released.

It boasts a number of significant improvements and welcomed updates including a refresh of the UI making it much more sleeker than previous versions of android.

Some of the main highlights of Ice Cream Sandwich are:

  • Virtual Navigation Buttons are now included within the O/S. Previously you had to fiddle back and forth between hardware buttons and software buttons.
  • Improved text input and spell-checking I’m sure we’ve all suffered embarassing auto correct mistakes before, so it’s nice to see that Google have worked on making this better. Should be interesting to see how much better this is.
  • Powerful voice input engine This is essentially a text to speech function that allows you to dictate messages into the phone and is instantly translated into text. Sounds very handy.
  • Control over network dataTo me, this seems like a very interesting and important feature. Working in the mobile phone industry, I know that managing data usage and mobile phone costs is important to a vast majority of customers, especially those who are on capped plans. The fact that Google have implemented a tool that allows you to closely monitor usage and also set usage warning alerts and limits will be very useful for a lot of people.
  • A focus on accessibility As I have a background in accessibility, this is something close to my heart. Previous versions of android have almost completely ignored accessibility, so it’s great to see that google have invested in this. The new Explore By Touch mode, enables the user to feel their way across the screen. As they touch different parts of the screen, an audible prompt identifies which part of the user interface they are touching. Another press activates this area. I’m looking forward to trying this out in more depth.
  • Redesigned Gallery app with photo editorHooray! I’m always rummaging around in the gallery on my phone. Plus I’m also a big user of PicPlz and Instagram. If I combine android’s photo editor with PicPlz and Instagram, I should be able to get some interesting results.
  • Android Beam for NFC-based sharing Beam looks to be very interesting. NFC (Near Field Communication) has been on the horizon for a long time now and it’s only just recently that we’ve been starting to see it implemented. I think sharing content between two devices via NFC will be very handy. Imagine swapping images, or applications with your friends and family.

So anyway, these are only some of the new features that google have implemented. You can check out the rest of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich updates here. Plus you can also check out this cute little video that google has put together. See below.