Android 4.0 – Ice Cream Sandwich

Andoid 4.0, code named Ice Cream Sandwich is latest version of Google's mobile Operating System (OS), as tasty as it sounds, is all the more exciting and enchanting for the developers as well as the users. This article analyzes not only this latest OS but also understand how it has evolved from its predecessors. It then moves on to the salient features that it offers, key improvement areas, what is in store for the developers and in turn for the users, how will the competition with Apple's iOS 5 shape. 

To better understand the latter parts of the discussion, let us, in brief, see what Android is and how the entire evolution from the very conception of the idea has occurred.

About Android

Android is the more popular alias name of the Android Operating System (OS) which is a mobile OS developed initially by Android Inc., purchased by Google and subsequently developed by Open Handset Alliance (a collection of hardware, software and telecom companies led by Google). The first commercial version of this software, Android 1.0 was launched in September 2008 and since then Android has been constantly serving better and better desserts (all the different version of Android have been code named after dessert food dishes, including: Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread,Honeycomb and the latest one, Ice Cream Sandwich).

Each new version has been an improved version of the earlier in the sense of better functionality, configurability and reliability. With more and more added features added every release, this journey has not had much disappointments for the developers or for the users which makes Android the largest selling mobile operating system with more than 190 million Android devices in use today. There are more than 0.3 mn Android applications available today with more than 0.5 mn total Android apps .

Major Advancements in Ice Cream Sandwich:

After the first preview of Ice Cream Sandwich in May 2011, it was officially launched on 19th October 2011 for Samsung's, Galaxy Nexus (specially built for Google, Android). The software development kit (SDK) was also released then. This OS is compatible with all the Android versions above 2.3 but because of the improvements in the hardware there might be some changes in the reception and resolution of the effects. Some of the key features of Nexus and Android 4.0 into the different categories are provided below:

  1. UI related: Virtual buttons in the UI, in place of capacitive or physical button, hardware acceleration of the UI, creating folders by dragging and dropping
  2. Utility related: A customizable launcher, improved visual voicemail, improved error correction on the keyboard, Better voice integration and continuous, real-time speech to text dictation, Built-in photo editor
  3. Hardware and Software related: Integrated screenshot capture (accomplished by holding down the Power and Volume-Down buttons), improved camera app with zero shutter lag, time lapse settings, panorama mode, and the ability to zoom while recording, Android Beam, a NFC feature that lets user exchange web bookmarks, contact info, directions, YouTube, etc 

All of this offered but is it enough? Android 4.0 is going to be a stiff competition to Apple’s iOS 5 and it will be interesting to see what this competition yields. 

About the key differences between Android and iOS:

  1. While Apples iOS is based on a fixed set of stringent almost un-configurable specifications from hardware perspective, Android offers developers and manufacturers the freedom to choose from a huge variety of specifications.
  2. With fixed hardware specification, it becomes very easy for developers to make apps for iOS and that too giving much better effects and a better polished final product, while this is not the case for Android.
  3. Due to the open nature of the Android it has very rapidly captured the market through the various major OEMs of mobiles. This has made Android capture more than 56%of the market share. Though giving better quality, Apple has still not been able to capture the market it would have liked to but still considering the face that only Apple uses iOS, the numbers are not less staggering.
  4. Developers in iOS get ease of coding and better final outcome where as developers of Android get a wider market though at an expense of compatibility issues and relatively lesser customer satisfaction .

Final word

Easier and better multitasking, rich notifications, customizable home screens and deep interactivity — Few of the reasons why potential customers just cannot miss Android 4.0 a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich just cannot be ignored. But there is enough to please the developers too – RenderScript – the visual scripting language behind Ice Cream Sandwich, Android Beam, the SDK and the entire source code are all kept open for the developers via APIs which will enable easy and fast development of apps .

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