Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich available for developers
Nov. 15, 2011 at 11:46 AM ET
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Developers and manufacturers who have been eager to start working with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich can now do so, as Google has released the platform that finally unifies Android phones and tablets.
Those who want to take a gander and start dabbling can go right to the Android developers website and get right to it.
You can go to one of our previous stories to get the nitty gritty on what Ice Cream Sandwich will mean to the average Android user, so we'll give you the rundown on what this means to the behind-the-scenes wizards.
Developers and manufacturers who want to start customizing Android 4.0 have more than a few choices in terms of directions they can go. Here are some that caught our eye:
- They can build on the social API and "add powerful new interactions that span multiple social networks and contacts sources."
- They can add calendar services to their apps.
- On the NFC front, "Android Beam is an NFC-based feature that lets users instantly share information about the apps they are using, just by touching two NFC-enabled phones together. When the devices are in range — within a few centimeters — the system sets up an NFC connection and displays a sharing UI. To share whatever they are viewing with the other device, users just touch the screen. For developers, Android Beam is a new way of triggering almost any type of proximity-based interaction."
- They can go to town on the new camera capabilities: "Developers can take advantage of a variety of new camera features in Android 4.0. ZSL exposure, continuous focus, and image zoom let apps capture better still and video images, including during video capture. Apps can even capture full-resolution snapshots while shooting video. Apps can now set custom metering regions in a camera preview, then manage white balance and exposure dynamically for those regions."
- Wi-Fi Direct allows developers to create apps that "share files, photos, or other media between devices or between a desktop computer and an Android-powered device" cable-free.
But regular folk like us have things to look forward to, too:
- The Recent Apps button pops up thumbnail images
- Folders! Yes, organization! New home screen folders give those of us who love folders (yes, that'd be me) a way to organize apps and shortcuts.
- While I am wary of auto corrects, 4.0 is adding a spell checker that locates and underlines errors, suggests replacements.
- I've started using the voice input more on my Android phone, but 4.0 promises "a powerful new voice input engine that offers a continuous 'open microphone' experience and streaming voice recognition. The new voice input engine lets users dictate the text they want, for as long as they want, using the language they want. Users can speak continuously 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, users can tap the underlined words to quickly replace them from a list of suggestions." (Hmmm, we shall see.)
And this we gotta see to believe:
Android 4.0 introduces a completely new approach to securing a device, making each person's device even more personal — Face Unlock is a new screen-lock option that lets users unlock their devices with their faces. It takes advantage of the device front-facing camera and state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to register a face during setup and then to recognize it again when unlocking the device. Users just hold their devices in front of their faces to unlock, or use a backup PIN or pattern.
Are you looking forward to 4.0?
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