Google has (finally) released its Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) software development kit (SDK). So let’s take a closer look.
Ice Cream Sandwich for Users
The new features for users in Ice Cream Sandwich are detailed on the Android Developers website. To summarize, those are as follows:
- Evolved UI
- New typeface optimized for high-resolution screens
- System Bar Refinements contains virtual buttons for better user experience
- Action Bar like features
- Resizable widgets
- Improved voice input engine
- Better control over network data
- People app offers richer profile information, including a large profile picture, phone numbers, addresses and accounts, status updates, events, and a new button for connecting on integrated social networks.
- Improved Calendar, Camera, Email and Browser apps
- Android Beam for sharing across two NFC-enabled devices
- Face Unlock is a new screen-lock option that lets users unlock their devices with their faces
- Wi-Fi Direct lets users connect directly to nearby peer devices over Wi-Fi
- Connecting to Bluetooth Health Device Profile (HDP) devices so users can connect to wireless medical devices and sensors in hospitals, fitness centers, homes, and elsewhere.
Ice Cream Sandwich for Developers
Developers need to be aware of the following features:
- Unified UI framework for phones, tablets, and more. All the UI elements from Honeycomb, like the action bar and fragments
- New social API
- new APIs for Contacts, Calendar, and Visual Voicemail
- audio remote control API so any music or media app can register to receive media button events from the remote control and then manage play state
- spell-checker API
- Android Beam so you can Share just about everything over NFC by tapping two phones together (like the bump app)
- ShareActionProvider widget lets developers quickly embed standard share functionality and UI in the Action Bar of their applications
- Low-level streaming multimedia (sounds a bit like DRM)
- New camera capabilities like continuous focus and image zoom. There’s also face detection.
- Wi-Fi Direct for ad-hoc networking
- Bluetooth Health Device Profile (HDP) For connecting to medical or fitness devices like the MotoActive.
- GridLayout improves the performance of Android applications by supporting flatter view hierarchies that are faster to layout and render
- Hardware-accelerated 2D drawing
- About a million other things – Stylus support, a new framework for text-to-speech engines, data usage, a VPN API, and policy management for the camera.
But don’t forget the new SDK Tools and ADT 14.
- Improved Eclipse Welcome wizard
- Build system improvements like a new library system and a faster Ant build
- Webcam support for the Android 4.0 system image. Windows/Linux only. Works with 1 or 2 webcams. Hope Mac support will come soon.
- New custom XML Formatter
- New logcat view
- Asset Studio integration in Eclipse
- Improved new Project and new XML wizards
- New UI for the SDK Manager