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Author Topic: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) Details  (Read 5663 times)

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Tablet PC Pro

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Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) Details
« on: January 02, 2012, 01:21:46 AM »
Android 4.0 Details - Ice Cream Sandwich
The next major Android release is coming soon.  The final API version 15 has been finalized and will be included with Android 4.0.3 that will be released to the public.  The code name for Android 4.0 is “Ice Cream Sandwich”. Compare Android 4.0, (Ice Cream Sandwich) and Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), there are differences.

So what’s up with the code names?  Google maintains a relaxed (although effective) development atmosphere among their developers and has created a little fun with the naming convention used for code names for their various versions.  There were a couple of versions developed (Apple Pie and Banana Split), but not released, and Cupcake (verision 1.5) was the first publicly released through the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).  Version numbers are incremented based on the type of release.  Minor enhancement releases are represented with a decimal numerical increment,  and major enhancment releases are represented with a full digit increment.  For instance, 3.0 to 3.1 to 3.2 were minor releases, while 3.0 to 4.0 represents the addition of major enhancements.  Additional versions released were named:
  • Donut 1.6
  • Eclair 1.7
  • Froyo 2.2
  • Gingerbread 2.3
  • Honeycomb 3.0. 3.1, 3.2, 3.2.1
  • Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0; and the next will be
  • Jelly Bean 5.0
The AOSP represents a governing group that oversees the planning, development, management, testing, and release of the various Android versions.

OK, enough about desserts and AOSP, let’s talk about what Android 4.0 is going to bring to the computing table.

First, although Android 3.2 and 3.2.1 made significant strides in eliminating the fragmentation of the various Android versions, 4.0 is the final fusion of the products.  The term “fragmentation” refers to the existence of various versions of Android where one version will work on one device, but another version will not.  For instance, Android 2.3 works well on cell phones, however, 3.2 will not work on cell phones, only tablets.  This fragmentation causes confusion, and places blockages on upgrade paths.  Android 4.0 will function on all future Android devices.

Second, all APIs from Android 3.x have been brought to 4.0 to work on the small screens of cell phones.  What is an API?  Application Programming Interface – these are classes, behaviors, routines and methods included in the operating system that developers can use to build into their software to effectively use the features and functions of the operating system.  This was the biggest stumbling block to 3.x working on Android devices with smaller screens.

These new features are dependent on the hardware manufacturer and software developers building the required interfaces.  For instance, if your tablet does not have a camera, none of the new camera features will work; and the new multimedia features will only work if the app developer adds the new features to their app.   Here is a run down on Android 4.0:
  • Social APIs:
    • Personal profile which represents the device owner
    • Invite contact to a social network – makes it easy for the user to add an existing contact on the device to their Facebook, Twitter, etc. pages.
    • Large photos – contact photos can now be both a 96x96 thumbnail, and a 256x256 display photo
    • Contact usage – tracks how often and which method is used each time a contact is used, for instance, by phone number, or email, etc.
  • Calendar Provider APIs makes the calendar function much more usable.  The calendar can now keep better track of events, invitations, attendees, reminders and alerts.
  • Voicemail Provider API – allows applications to add voicemails to the device in order better organize and show all the voicemails together on a single page.  It will be possible to add voicemails from multiple sources or voicemail services into a single application.  For instance, you can import your voice mails from your cell phone, and voice mails from your VOIP service to your tablet.  Of course, this will only work if the voice mail providers add this feature to their app.
  • Multimedia APIs:
    • Media Effects – allows the application of a variety of visual effects to images and videos.  For instance, easily fix red-eye, convert to gray scale, adjust colors, brightness, saturation, rotate, etc.
    • Remote Control client – allows media players to control the device to lock the screen, display album art, track information, etc.
    • Media player – streaming online media now requires the media player to have internet permissions.  All media player apps must be modified to add the internet permission or it will not work on Android 4.0.
  • Camera APIs:
    • Face detection – camera apps can now use Android’s face detection feature.  This can be used by the security app to unlock the device.
    • Focus and metering – camera apps can now control the areas the camera uses to focus and meter for auto-exposure.
    • Continuous auto focus – camera apps can now be set to continuous auto focus when taking photos.
    • Take Picture – while recording video, you can take a picture without interrupting the video session.
    • Lock exposure and white balance
    • Change orientation any time the camera is in preview mode
  • Android Beam – is a new NFC feature that allows you to send messages from one device to another.  The data transfer is initiates when two Android devices with Android Beam are in close proximity (about 4cm) to each other.  For instance, an app can share contacts, YouTube shares videos, and Browser shares URLs.
  • Wi-Fi Direct – Android now supports Wi-Fi Direct for peer-to-peer connections between Android devices or other devices without the need for a hotspot or internet connections.  This will make it easy to use the Wi-Fi connection on both your laptop and tablet to share data.
  • Bluetooth Health Devices – Android now support Bluetooth connections to communicate with health devices such as heart-rate monitors, blood meters, thermometers, scales, etc.
  • Accessibility API - Explore-by-touch mode – users with vision disabilities can explore the screen by touching and dragging a finger across the screen to hear voice descriptions of the content.  This mode works like a virtual cursor which allows screen readers to identify text using a finger the same way a trackball would work.
  • Spell Checker Services – makes it easier for all apps to create spell checkers
  • Text-to-speech – has been significantly extended to allow applications to easily implement text-to-speech features.
  • Device Sensors – two new sensor types have been added – temperature sensor and a humidity sensor.
  • Action Bar – has been updated to support various modes to manage the action bar’s size when running on smaller screens.  You can split or stack the action bar to make it more usable.
  • Plus many programming specific technical APIs that aid in hardware acceleration, mouse and stylus events, menu options (hardware button no longer needed), themes, switching widgets, popup menus, grid layouts, texture views, etc.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 04:24:35 PM by Tablet PC Pro »
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