Ice Cream Sandwich – October 19, 2011 Hong Kong
Introducing Android 4.0
Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is the latest version of the Android platform for phones, tablets, and more. It builds on the things people love most about Android — easy multitasking, rich notifications, customizable home screens, resizable widgets, and deep interactivity — and adds powerful new ways of communicating and sharing.
Simple, Beautiful, Useful
Refined, evolved UI
Focused on bringing the power of Android to the surface, Android 4.0 makes common actions more visible and lets you navigate with simple, intuitive gestures. Refined animations and feedback throughout the system make interactions engaging and interesting. An entirely new typeface optimized for high-resolution screens improves readability and brings a polished, modern feel to the user interface.
Virtual buttons in the System Bar let you navigate instantly to Back, Home, and Recent Apps. The System Bar and virtual buttons are present across all apps, but can be dimmed by applications for full-screen viewing. You can access each application’s contextual options in the Action Bar, displayed at the top (and sometimes also at the bottom) of the screen.
Multitasking is a key strength of Android and it’s made even easier and more visual on Android 4.0. The Recent Apps button lets you jump instantly from one task to another using the list in the System Bar. The list pops up to show thumbnail images of apps used recently — tapping a thumbnail switches to the app.
Rich and interactive notifications let you keep in constant touch with incoming messages, play music tracks, see real-time updates from apps, and much more. On smaller-screen devices, notifications appear at the top of the screen, while on larger-screen devices they appear in the System Bar.
Home screen folders and favorites tray
New home screen folders offer a new way for you to group your apps and shortcuts logically, just by dragging one onto another. Also, in All Apps launcher, you can now simply drag an app to get information about it or immediately uninstall it, or disable a pre-installed app.
On smaller-screen devices, the home screen now includes a customizable favorites tray visible from all home screens. You can drag apps, shortcuts, folders, and other priority items in or out of the favorites tray for instant access from any home screen.
Home screens in Android 4.0 are designed to be content-rich and customizable. You can do much more than add shortcuts — you can embed live application content directly through interactive widgets. Widgets let you check email, flip through a calendar, play music, check social streams, and more — right from the home screen, without having to launch apps. Widgets are resizable, so you can expand them to show more content or shrink them to save space.
New lock screen actions
The lock screens now let you do more without unlocking. From the slide lock screen, you can jump directly to the camera for a picture or pull down the notifications window to check for messages. When listening to music, you can even manage music tracks and see album art.
Quick responses for incoming calls
When an incoming call arrives, you can now quickly respond by text message, without needing to pick up the call or unlock the device. On the incoming call screen, you simply slide a control to see a list of text responses and then tap to send and end the call. You can add your own responses and manage the list from the Settings app.
Swipe to dismiss notifications, tasks, and browser tabs
Android 4.0 makes managing notifications, recent apps, and browser tabs even easier. You can now dismiss individual notifications, apps from the Recent Apps list, and browser tabs with a simple swipe of a finger.
Improved text input and spell-checking
The soft keyboard in Android 4.0 makes text input even faster and more accurate. Error correction and word suggestion are improved through a new set of default dictionaries and more accurate heuristics for handling cases such as double-typed characters, skipped letters, and omitted spaces. Word suggestion is also improved and the suggestion strip is simplified to show only three words at a time.
To fix misspelled words more easily, Android 4.0 adds a spell-checker that locates and underlines errors and suggests replacement words. With one tap, you can choose from multiple spelling suggestions, delete a word, or add it to the dictionary. You can even tap to see replacement suggestions for words that are spelled correctly. For specialized features or additional languages, you can now download and install third-party dictionaries, spell-checkers, and other text services.
Powerful voice input engine
Android 4.0 introduces a powerful new voice input engine that offers a continuous “open microphone” experience and streaming voice recognition. The new voice input engine lets you dictate the text you want, for as long as you want, using the language you want. You can speak continously for a prolonged time, even pausing for intervals if needed, and dictate punctuation to create correct sentences. As the voice input engine enters text, it underlines possible dictation errors in gray. After dictating, you can tap the underlined words to quickly replace them from a list of suggestions.
Control over network data
Mobile devices can make extensive use of network data for streaming content, synchronizing data, downloading apps, and more. To meet the needs of you with tiered or metered data plans, Android 4.0 adds new controls for managing network data usage.
In the Settings app, colorful charts show the total data usage on each network type (mobile or Wi-Fi), as well as amount of data used by each running application. Based on your data plan, you can optionally set warning levels or hard limits on data usage or disable mobile data altogether. You can also manage the background data used by individual applications as needed.
Designed for accessibility
A variety of new features greatly enhance the accessibility of Android 4.0 for blind or visually impaired users. Most important is a new explore-by-touch mode that lets you navigate without having to see the screen. Touching the screen once triggers audible feedback that identifies the UI component below; a second touch in the same component activates it with a full touch event. The new mode is especially important to support users on new devices that use virtual buttons in the System Bar, rather than dedicated hardware buttons or trackballs. Also, standard apps are updated to offer an improved accessibility experience. The Browser supports a script-based screen reader for reading favorite web content and navigating sites. For improved readability, you can also increase the default font size used across the system.
The accessibility experience begins at first setup — a simple touch gesture during setup (clockwise square from upper left) activates all accessibility features and loads a setup tutorial. Once accessibility features are active, everything visible on the screen can be spoken aloud by the standard screen reader.