The Android operating system has always been a powerful workhorse and a great choice for technical geeks; however, it lacked the fun aspect. Enter the latest in the line of Android versions, the Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). Reconstructed totally from the ground up, it is now packed with a host of features that none will find lacking. The system is not just a revision of previous versions, but is actually significantly different from the older gingerbread version.
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The first most obvious change to strike one is the elimination of all the physical navigation buttons. They are replaced with virtual buttons that come alive under ones fingers by glowing and throbbing. Eye-catching animations moving slowly fill the home screen and there is a larger variety to choose from in the apps tray and if one desires, photo gallery.
Another cool convenience is that when a user reads an email message, the screen can be moved to the left or right of the message that is being read. This allows one to see the message that came before the current one or the one which comes after. This movement can be carried out by flicking the screen. The flick gesture is common throughout the new OS and can be used to get rid of alerts in the notifications list, browser thumbnails and in any application that was used recently.
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The home screen widgets can now be resized. A brand new calendar app allows cells to expand and collapse by just pinching; this allows the viewing of large or small time periods. The web browser is now considerably faster and includes a really handy feature that allows one to save material for offline reading. The Request Desktop Site is also found in this same menu, which allows one to navigate away from the mobile-optimized view of the browser.
Google has also improved the voice-controlled text input. It is more accurate, even if just by a tad bit. The feature controlling voice now reveals words being dictated at a very slow real-time pace. While not the most accurate of implementations, it does manage to get by and one does not have to hit “done” to see the material that has been dictated. The security hardware, too, has gotten a bit of an upgrade. Buried deep within the Settings menu, is the Face Unlock feature, which utilizes facial recognition technology to match the mug with the security system. It is set up by allowing the front-facing camera to scan the face and upon completion, one selects a secondary unlocking tool that acts as a fail-safe in case the Face Unlock does not work. The security system can be set up very easily, but it is easy to fool and fails fairly frequently. Additionally, it is not really very fast; entering a key code is much faster. This makes one wonder, why bother with it at all? What is more troublesome is the fact that it can be easily fooled. Cell phones using this feature can be unlocked by holding a photo of the phone owner in front of the locked screen.
A far more practical feature is the Data Usage tool, also located in the Settings menu. This allows one to see the amount of data one has accessed on a timeline over a number of days. It is possible to set a warning, so as one nears the limit of their plan they can cut back. There are also many photo and video functionalities packed in the system that allow one to edit their captured material. Additionally, there is a new People app that can roll up the contacts list and extend social media functionality in one place. All the contacts can be viewed through thumbnails. Just click on a thumbnail and one gets a nice contact profile, showing their email address and the most recent Google activity. Also, the profiles of these people will spring up throughout ICS. When one clicks on the image of someone from whom an email has come, the People profile pops up showing all the different ways of contacting them.
The Ice Cream sandwich is packed full of really brilliant features. The operating system immediately puts all cell phones using the ICS way beyond other Android competitors.
This is a guest article by Ruben Corbo, a writer for the website Cell Phone Expert where you can compare cell phone plans.