Ice Cream Sandwich: For smartphones and tablets

October 19, 2011

Google has given us a glimpse of its vision for the mobile future with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first phone to launch with Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.

Android’s been called an early adopter’s platform, a true geek’s platform — in other words, not the most accessible system. On Tuesday, Microsoft head Steve Ballmer’s made the sneering remark that you need to be a “computer scientist” to operate Google’s operating system, The Telegraph reported. That night — well, the next morning in Hong Kong — Android customer experience lead Matias Duarte showed off all the new, user-friendly features of Ice Cream Sandwich that he said concentrate on the “soul” of Android.

“We found out that while people like Android, while people need Android, they don’t love Android,” he said, before outlining an entire design overhaul of the system, starting with a new, custom font called Roboto.

Android now has three design goals: enchant me, simplify my life, and make me awesome.

The platform is trying to be more engaging and easier to use by adding in more swipe gestures and building upon many of the features already a part of Google’s Honeycomb tablet system. Ice Cream Sandwich adds more app widgets, makes it easier to make folders and adds an easy way for users to switch between their most recently used applications. For connected devices, the company’s also built in a data use monitor. The new system also revamps the keyboard to be more user friendly and modifies notifications to make it easier to clear away alerts that don’t interest you. The photo app enhancements and facial recognition features for the Galaxy Nexus are also features of the new operating system.

Ice Cream Sandwich is now official, but Google’s far from done with its announcements. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Android lead Andy Rubin said that the company is set to bolster its multimedia offerings and teased tech watchers with the admission that the service will “have a little twist.”

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Droid RAZR coming in Nov. for Verizon

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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