Ice Cream Sandwich – The Future of Android

Icecreamlogo

After some time speculating about the name and what it will bring, Google finally announced the next version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. Not only is this the next version of the massively popular mobile operating system, but Ice Cream Sandwich signals a new era for Android. There are plenty of goodies within the tasty new update, and we’re going lay them all out for your reading pleasure below.

So is Ice Cream Sandwich the update we’ve all been waiting for? Read on to find out!

So long, fragmentation

Not only does the next version of the OS bring a lot of new features to smartphones, it will be the most ambitious release from Google to date. Ice Cream Sandwich will bring a Honeycomb-like feature set to the table, and at the same time tackle what’s been one of the biggest issues with Android. Fragmentation. Ice Cream Sandwich is the fragmentation fighter that Android has needed for some time now, and it’s finally here. Google wants an OS that can be run everywhere, no matter what the hardware. This means that updates will be sent to devices on a more timely schedule, which is an issue that’s plagued Android devices even in its earliest stages.

Cool new features

Ice Cream Sandwich will also come with a handful of APIs to make developing for the platform much easier for developers. ICS is friendly with screens of any size, and provides APIs to developers to modify certain elements accordingly. One example is that the action bar can be tweaked to make way for more space for an application. Another API that was demoed was head and face tracking from the camera. This API can recognize specific part of the face, and we saw some distortion software applied to a face in real-time. One neat trick demoed was that if there are two people on one side of a video chat session, the camera will recognize who is talking and focus on them, rather than both people.

The new version will be bringing all of the new features seen in Honeycomb to smartphones. This includes the holographic UI, multitasking bar, and more. This will make Android a seamless experience across the board. This should also appeal to developers, as developing an application for a phone will easily work on a tablet with little to no tweaking. We’ll also find fragments within the update, which will help developers modify pieces of an application to accommodate screen size, without having to re-write an entire application.

What about updates?

One question still looms, however. With the strides that Google is making in attempt to bring a seamless experience across the board, and get updates to the end-user in a more timely manner, we wonder just how the custom skins found a majority of Android devices today will affect this. Updating a stock Android device like the Nexus One will be easier than updating the HTC Thunderbolt, which ships with the Sense UI custom skin. If the OS updates begin to ship much quicker to stock Android handsets, will some companies begin to strip down heavily customized user interfaces? While this is likely not the case, it will be interesting if things go unchanged for these types of devices, even if Google has partnered up with a handful of companies to ensure faster updates.

Up close, Ice Cream Sandwich itself doesn’t actually seem like a very big update. It’s basically Honeycomb for phones, which surely wasn’t an easy feat to accomplish, but there’s not many new features. Stepping back, you realize that Ice Cream Sandwich is setting the stage for Android’s future, offering up a slick UI, new APIs that will appeal to developers, and an experience that will remain relatively similar whether you’re on a phone or a tablet. While Ice Cream Sandwich brings a lot of great things to the table, it’s quite obvious that this update is to address fragmentation and updates, and they may have just done it.

Stepping back even further, Ice Cream Sandwich was just one of the many announcements made from Google today. We also saw an update to Honeycomb, the introduction of Google Music Beta, Android Market movie rentals, Android@Home, and Android Open Accessory.

It’s been a good day for Google, and we’re sure that Ice Cream Sandwich has a lot more to offer, as the I/O just gave us a “quick peek” of the tasty new dessert. Expected to land sometime in the fourth quarter, it’s time to wait for October to roll around.

  • http://twitter.com/mistercarter7 Mike Gonzalez

    the names get worse with each update! what’s next? Android 3.2 Jelly?

    • Anonymous

      It’s true. Ice Cream Sandwich is a mouthful to say. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next version called Jellybean.

      • http://twitter.com/WillieFDiazSF William Diaz ?

        or Jelly-Filled Donut (rehashing on the old name).

        HTC Sense UI is pretty nice, and HTC is pretty decent updating their phones to the new OS, so Im interested to see if T-Mobile updates the MyTouch 4G and if Sprint updates the EVO 4G to ICS.

        Google needs to ditch the name “Fragments” for whatever their thing is, because it confuses many people – myself included – that they are actually trying to implement fragmented things into the OS, which I know they arent, but I dont know why they would name something after what they are trying to stop.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MikeJwF Mike Fougere

    Next will be “Android 5.0; Open Faced Roast Beef Sandwich with a Baked Potato”

  • Anonymous

    I dont thinks its a stretch of the imagination to think plugging in a phone to a larger screen – eg a TV, the ‘tablet’ (Honeycomb) software would be activated – a little similar to the way the atrix works. Hello ultra portable computing.

  • Anonymous

    That logo really makes me hungry…

  • Christopher

    I like the article and it presented some great thinking points.  I am new to mobile application development. I am currently developing a new mobile application that I want on android phones.  I personally think it would benefit me to wait for the new OS before developing and having to switch over.  I have done a market analysis and currently nothing is out there that matches my product and there is a target market that wants and would use my product.  If I wait, then I could lose some market share, but if I wait I could save money on development.  I welcome any suggestions or comments?

  • Anonymous

    LOL! End of fragmentation my ass. Good luck with that. I wouldn’t advise you to hold your breath. It will also be funny to listen to Google explain how and why they’re going to try and close their OS, when they been the bigger proponents of being open. That will be fun to watch.

    Android is crap, despite it’s sucess. It will continue to be crap. I know because I used one for 9 months and thought to myself, how the hell can anyone put up with this garbage. Thankfully, I broke me contract and got rid of it.

  • Anonymous

    LOL! End of fragmentation my ass. Good luck with that. I wouldn’t advise you to hold your breath. It will also be funny to listen to Google explain how and why they’re going to try and close their OS, when they been the bigger proponents of being open. That will be fun to watch.

    Android is crap, despite it’s sucess. It will continue to be crap. I know because I used one for 9 months and thought to myself, how the hell can anyone put up with this garbage. Thankfully, I broke me contract and got rid of it.

  • matt

    So, how’s catching up now? Clearly Android. All the fragmentation in Android devices drove me from buying one. I bought an iPhone instead. Why? From day one, they haven’t had any issues with fragmentation. Again, it’s all about personal preference, but I’ll also like the iPhone more than any Android device. Android devices are just so lagy, and just a horribly put-together phone.

    • Anonymous

      To say that Android phones are horribly put together is ignorant. Unless you’ve went through all 400 devices in the world right now to test build quality, then you have no justifiable point. 

      Like you said before, most of this is personal preference but to say you’ll always like the iPhone over any Android phone means that you’ve already made your decision, meaning there’s no reason to even consider your opinion since it’s already been predetermined. 

      I like the iPhone 4′s hardware a lot but i also like a lot of Android phones’ hardware, too. Plus, some people prefer a bigger screen, keyboard, etc. Android definitely lacks the elegance of iOS but it reflects the consumer more because one size does not fit all, no matter how you spin it.

      When it comes to fragmentation for Android, it’s going to be there to some extent and the main issue will likely remain until the older generation devices have been upgraded. Ice Cream Sandwich is a look into Android’s future. 

      I look at Android like I would see an up and coming band. Once the band had a small, core following, staying in the underground scene. Then it got signed to a major record label, and its sound isn’t what it used to be and some will say the band sold out. The band/OS sees so much success that it’s gaining more fans than it’s losing them, so  while it’s sad to see it lose touch with its roots, it can afford to lose them.

  • Anonymous

    Oh come on now, I’ve used both extensively and it’s far too much of an exaggeration to call it crap. Android’s better at some things than iPhone and iPhone is better than Android at some things. Different strokes for different folks

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