Below you see highlights of the new Android 4.0 operating system.
Android 4.0 makes
common actions more visible and lets users navigate with
simple gestures.Virtual buttons in the System Bar let users navigate instantly to Back, Home,
and Recent Apps. The System Bar and virtual buttons are present
across all apps, but can be dimmed by applications for full-screen viewing.
Users can access each application's contextual options in the Action
Bar, displayed at the top (and sometimes also at the bottom) of the
The Recent Apps button lets users jump
instantly from one task to another using the list in the System Bar. The list
pops up to show thumbnail images of apps used recently - tapping a
thumbnail switches to the app.
Interactive notifications let users keep in
constant touch with incoming messages, play music tracks, see real-time updates
from apps, and much more. On smaller-screen devices, notifications appear at the
top of the screen, while on larger-screen devices they appear in the System
The All Apps launcher (left) and resizable widgets (right) give you apps and rich content from the home screen.
Home screen folders and
New home screen folders offer a new way for users to group
their apps and shortcuts logically, just by dragging one onto another. From the
All Apps launcher, users can now drag an app to get information about it
or immediately uninstall it, or disable a pre-installed app.
On smaller-screen devices, the home screen now includes a customizable
favorites tray visible from all home screens. Users can drag
apps, shortcuts, folders, and other priority items in or out of the favorites
tray for instant access from any home screen.
Home screens in Android 4.0 are designed to be customizable.
Users can do much more than add shortcuts - they can embed live
application content directly through interactive widgets.
Widgets let users check email, flip through a calendar, play music, check social
streams, and more - right from the home screen, without having to launch
apps. Widgets are resizable, so users can expand them to show more content or
shrink them to save space.
New lock screen
The lock screens now let users do more without unlocking. From the slide lock
screen, users can jump directly to the camera for a picture or
pull down the notifications window to check for messages. When
listening to music, users can even manage music tracks and see album art.
Quick responses for
When an incoming call arrives, users can now quickly respond by text
message, without needing to pick up the call or unlock the device. On
the incoming call screen, users slide a control to see a list of text
responses and then tap to send and end the call. Users can add their own
responses and manage the list from the Settings app.
Swipe to dismiss
notifications, tasks, and browser tabs
Android 4.0 makes managing notifications, recent apps, and browser tabs even
easier. Users can now dismiss individual notifications, apps from the Recent
Apps list, and browser tabs lists with a simple swipe of a finger.
A spell-checker lets you find errors and fix them faster.
A voice input engine lets you dictate continously.
Improved text input and
The soft keyboard in Android 4.0 makes text input even faster. Error correction and word suggestion are improved through a new set of
default dictionaries and more accurate heuristics for handling cases such as
double-typed characters, skipped letters, and omitted spaces. Word suggestion is
also improved and the suggestion strip is simplified to show only three words at
To fix misspelled words more easily, Android 4.0 adds a spell-checker that
locates and underlines errors and suggests replacement words. With one tap,
users can choose from multiple spelling suggestions, delete a word, or add it to
the dictionary. Users can even tap to see replacement suggestions for words that
are spelled correctly. For specialized features or additional languages, users
can now download and install third-party dictionaries, spell-checkers, and other
Android 4.0 introduces a new voice input engine that offers a
continuous "open microphone" experience and streaming voice recognition. The new
voice input engine lets users dictate the text they want, for as long as they
want, using the language they want. Users can speak continously for a prolonged
time, even pausing for intervals if needed, and dictate punctuation to create
correct sentences. As the voice input engine enters text, it underlines possible
dictation errors in gray. After dictating, users can tap the underlined words to
quickly replace them from a list of suggestions.
Data usage controls let you monitor total usage by network type and application and then set limits if needed.
Control over network
Mobile devices can make extensive use of network data for streaming content,
synchronizing data, downloading apps, and more. To meet the needs of users with
tiered or metered data plans, Android 4.0 adds new controls for
managing network data usage.
In the Settings app, colorful charts show the total data usage on each
network type (mobile or Wi-Fi), as well as amount of data used by each running
application. Based on their data plans, users can optionally set warning levels
or hard limits on data usage or disable mobile data altogether. Users can also
manage the background data used by individual applications as needed.
A variety of new features greatly enhance the accessibility of Android 4.0
for blind or visually impaired users. Most important is a new
explore-by-touch mode that lets users navigate without having
to see the screen. Touching the screen once triggers audible feedback that
identifies the UI component below; a second touch in the same component
activates it with a full touch event. The new mode is especially important to
support users on new devices that use virtual buttons in the System Bar, rather
than dedicated hardware buttons or trackballs. Also, standard apps are updated
to offer an improved accessibility experience. The Browser supports a script-based screen reader for reading favorite web content and
navigating sites. For improved readability, users can also increase the default
font size used across the system.
The accessibility experience begins at first setup - a simple touch gesture during setup (clockwise square from upper left)
activates all accessibility features and loads a setup tutorial. Once
accessibility features are active, everything visible on the screen can be
spoken aloud by the standard screen reader.
Communication and sharing
Designed for the way people live, Android 4.0 integrates rich social
communication and sharing touchpoints across the system, making it easy to talk,
email, text, and share.
Throughout the system, a user's social groups, profiles, and contacts are
linked together and integrated for easy accessibility. At the center is a new People app that offers richer profile information, including a
large profile picture, phone numbers, addresses and accounts, status updates,
and a new button for connecting on integrated social networks.
The user's own contact information is stored in a new "Me"
profile, allowing easier sharing with apps and people. All of the
user's integrated contacts are displayed in an easy to manage list, including
controls over which contacts are shown from any integrated account or social
network. Wherever the user navigates across the system, tapping a profile photo
displays Quick Contacts, with shortcuts to phone numbers, text messaging, and
Unified calendar, visual
To help organize appointments and events, an updated Calendar
app brings together personal, work, school, and social agendas. With
user permission, other applications can contribute events to the calendar and
manage reminders, for an integrated view across multiple calendar providers. The
app is redesigned to let users manage events more easily. Calendars are
color-coded and users can swipe left or right to change dates
and pinch to zoom in or out agendas.
In the phone app, a new visual voicemail features integrates
incoming messages, voice transcriptions, and audio files from one or more
providers. Third-party applications can integrate with the Phone app to add
their own voice messages, transcriptions, and more to the visual voicemail
Capture the picture you want, edit, and share instantly.
The Camera app includes many new features. After capturing images, they can edit and share
them easily with friemds.
When taking pictures, continuous focus, zero shutter
lag exposure, and decreased shot-to-shot speed help capture clear,
precise images. Stabilized image zoom lets users compose photos
and video in the way they want, including while video is recording. For new
flexibility while shooting video, users can now take
snapshots at full video resolution just by tapping the screen
as video continues to record.
detection locates faces in the frame and automatically sets focus. For
more control, users can tap to focus anywhere in the preview
For capturing larger scenes, the Camera introduces a single-motion
panorama mode. In this mode, the user starts an exposure and then
slowly turns the Camera to encompass as wide a perspective as needed. The Camera
assembles the full range of continuous imagery into a single panoramic
After taking a picture or video, users can quickly share it by email, text
message, bluetooth, social networks, and more, just by tapping the thumbnail in
the camera controls.
A Photo Gallery widget on the home screen.
Redesigned Gallery app
with photo editor
The Gallery app now makes it easier to manage, show, and share photos and
videos. For managing collections, a redesigned album layout
shows many more albums and offers larger thumbnails. There are many ways to sort
albums, including by time, location, people, and tags. The Gallery now includes a photo editor.
Users can crop and rotate pictures, set levels, remove red eyes, add effects,
and much more. After retouching, users can select one or multiple pictures or
videos to share over email, text messaging, bluetooth, social
networks, or other apps.
An improved Picture Gallery widget lets users look at
pictures directly on their home screen. The widget can display pictures from a
selected album, shuffle pictures from all albums, or show a single image. After
adding the widget to the home screen, users can flick through the photo stacks
to locate the image they want, then tap to load it in Gallery.
Live Effects let you change backgrounds and use Silly Faces during video.
Live Effects for transforming video
Live Effects is a collection of graphical transformations that add
interest and fun to videos captured in the Camera app. For example,
users can change the background behind them to any stock or custom
image, for just the right setting when shooting video or using Google
Talk video chat. Also available is Silly Faces, a set of morphing
effects that use face recognition and GPU filters to
add effects facial features during video capture. For example, you
can use effects such as small eyes, big mouth, big nose, face squeeze,
and more. Outside of the Camera app, Live Effects is available during
video chat in the Google Talk app.
Snapping a screenshot.
Sharing with screenshots
Users can now share what's on their screens more easily by taking screenshots. Hardware buttons let them snap a screenshot and store it locally. Afterward, they can view, edit, and share the screen shot in Gallery or a similar app.
The Browser tabs menu (left) lets you quickly switch browser tabs. The options menu (right) gives you new ways to manage your browsing experience.
Android has always been cloud-connected, letting users browse the web
and sync photos, apps, games, email, and contacts - wherever they are
and across all of their devices. Android 4.0 adds new browsing and email
capabilities to let users take even more with them and keep
The Android Browser lets users instantly and manage sync Google Chrome
bookmarks from all of their accounts, jump to their favorite content
faster, and even save it for reading later in case there's no network
To get the most out of web content, users can now request full
desktop versions of web sites, rather than their mobile
versions. Users can set their preference for web sites separately for each
browser tab. For longer content, users can save a copy for
offline reading. To find and open saved pages, users can browse
a visual list that's included with browser bookmarks and history. For better
readability and accessibility, users can increase the browser's zoom
levels and override the system default text sizes.
Google claims that across all types of content, the Android Browser offers improved
page rendering performance through updated versions of the
benchmarks run on a Nexus S device, the Android 4.0 browser showed an
improvement of nearly 220% over the Android 2.3 browser in the V8 Benchmark
Galaxy Nexus device, the Android 4.0 browser showed improvement of nearly 550%
in the V8 benchmark and nearly 70% in the SunSpider benchmark.
email, improved auto-completion of recipients helps with
finding and adding frequent contacts more quickly. For easier input of frequent
text, users can now create quick responses and store them in
the app, then enter them from a convenient menu when composing. When replying to
a message, users can now toggle the message to Reply All and Forward without
For easier browsing across accounts and labels, the app adds an
integrated menu of accounts and recent labels. The Email app now supports
nested mail subfolders, each with synchronization rules. Users
can also search across folders on the server, for faster results.
For enterprises, the Email app supports EAS v14. It supports
EAS certificate authentication, provides ABQ strings for device type and mode,
and allows automatic sync to be disabled while roaming. Administrators can also
limit attachment size or disable attachments.
For keeping track of incoming email more easily, a resizable Email
widget lets users flick through recent email right from the home
screen, then jump into the Email app to compose or reply.
Android Beam for
Android Beam lets users share what they are using with a single tap.
Android Beam is a convenient feature for sharing across two
NFC-enabled devices, It lets people instantly exchange favorite apps, contacts,
music, videos - almost anything. It's simple and convenient to
use - there's no menu to open, application to launch, or pairing needed.
Just touch one Android-powered phone to another, then tap to send.
For sharing apps, Android Beam pushes a link to the app's details page in
Android Market. On the other device, the Market app launches and loads the
details page, for easy downloading of the app. Individual apps can build on
Android Beam to add other types of interactions, such as passing game scores,
initiating a multiplayer game or chat, and more.
Face recognition lets you unlock your phone with your face.
Android 4.0 introduces a completely new approach to securing a device, making
it even more personal - Face Unlock is a new screen-lock option that lets
users unlock their devices with their faces. It takes advantage of
facial recognition technology to register a face and to
recognize it later when unlocking the device. Users just hold their devices in
front of their faces to unlock, or use a backup PIN or pattern.
Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth HDP
Support for Wi-Fi Direct lets users connect directly to
nearby peer devices over Wi-Fi, for more reliable, higher-speed communication.
No internet connection or tethering is needed. Through third-party apps, users
can connect to compatible devices to take advantage of new features such as
instant sharing of files, photos, or other media; streaming video or audio from
another device; or connecting to compatible printers or other devices.
Android 4.0 also introduces built-in support for connecting to Bluetooth Health Device Profile (HDP)
devices. With support from third-party apps, users can connect to
wireless medical devices and sensors in hospitals, fitness centers,
homes, and elsewhere. In addition, for connecting to higher quality
Bluetooth audio devices, Android 4.0 adds support for Bluetooth Hands
Free Profile (HFP) 1.6.