GADGET WATCH: Android Ice Cream Sandwich

It’s been awhile since Ice Cream Sandwich was released, but plenty of smartphone users take awhile to upgrade, waiting to see how the new software runs rather than jump in straight away.

By all accounts this is a significant upgrade to the Android software, but does it have enough to convince everyone to upgrade?

Hardware and features

The Ice Cream Sandwich update features enhanced speed and performance, customisable launcher, drag-and-drop folders, separation of widgets into new tab, offline search, the ability to pinch to zoom in the calendar, along with improved visual voicemail.

Users can now access apps directly from the lock-screen, activate facial unlock and use the new tabbed web browser up to 16 tabs. The software also allows the automatic syncing of browser with Chrome bookmarks, a built-in photo editor, new gallery layout and resizable widgets.

The update also features Wi-Fi direct, and 1080p recording, although the features of the software will depend on the device on which it is installed.

What’s the consensus?

 

The response to Ice Cream Sandwich has been overwhelmingly positive. Over at PC World, the publication had a number of positive things to say including upgrades to the app drawer, widgets and notification tray, which is now accessible without having to unlock the phone.

“I like the fact that you can quickly get into apps without having to unlock the phone first, but I hope Google puts a security measure in place so that not just anyone can access your private communications,” it noted.

At TechRadar, it was noted Ice Cream Sandwich is designed to work without buttons, with the publication noting a number of new changes including swiping sideways to shut down applications, “which will greatly help reduce the batter consumption of your phone if there’s something silently updating in the background”.

It also said the various small changes were welcome, including the new blue theme, to the new notifications overhaul.

“If it’s a contact that’s sending you a message or a missed call, their contact photo will now appear too, which is a nice touch.”

Back at PCWorld, the publication noted Gmail had received a pretty substantial update, now faster to use due to the new action bar, which changes context based upon where you are.

Over at the camera feature, PCWorld said the ability to share a photo by just tapping on it was a nice touch, while it also said the new contact cards which show information of your contact book was a welcome introduction.

“Quick Responses are customisable canned text-message replies that you can send to a caller to explain why you rejected their call. They’re pretty neat, and I can see myself using them on people I want to avoid.”

At Engadget, there was a lot to say about the new features when booting up, including the ability to add a Google+ profile. It also noted a number of improvements with speed, and especially the keyboard, which now comes with spellchecking, an improved autocorrect and new features including double-tap to highlight.

“Our relationship with the stock Android keyboard has always been hit-or-miss up to this point, but the latest revision is certainly making us a believer. We found that the new autocorrect functionality allowed us to type faster and with greater confidence.”

 

Who’s it for?

 

There’s no doubt about it – Ice Cream Sandwich has improved the Android experience in almost every way. Although it may not have fixed every problem so far, there isn’t a lot here to complain about.

It’s faster, leaner and just looks better, and the features make texting, taking pictures and playing with various widgets and apps a much nicer experience.

If you’re a serious Android user, and have the ability to update here, then you definitely should. Otherwise, you’re missing out on your smartphone’s full potential.

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