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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Android 4.0: what you need to know In Depth: Android 4.0 release date, specs and more rumours

We've had Android 2.3 Gingerbread. We've had Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Next up: Ice Cream Sandwich, the next version of Google's Android operating system.

Although it's possible that Ice Cream Sandwich will be given a lower version number, such as Android 2.4, we think the scale of the upgrade makes it more than a mere point release - so our money's on Android 4.0.

No matter what number Google gives it, the next version of Android brings new features, new hardware and new ways to play with your Android kit.

Here's what you need to know.

Android 4.0 release date

Google says the Android 4.0 release date will be around Thanksgiving in the US, which means it should ship just in time for the all-important Christmas shopping binge this year.

Android 4.0 phones

Specs for what could be the Google Nexus 3 have surfaced courtesy of BGR, revealing a handset with a dual-core 1.2GHz or 1.5GHz OMAP 4460 or Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a 720p HD display, along with 1080p HD video capture through the 5MP rear-mounted camera.

Huawei is also claiming that its forthcoming handset the Glory, while shipping with Android 2.2, will be upgradeable to Ice Cream Sandwich when the OS becomes available, according to PCMag.com. It's not yet known whether the Glory is headed to the UK, and if it does it's likely to be carrier-branded rather than come sporting the Huawei badge.

The Android 4.0 OS will be a unified OS

Say goodbye to Gingerbread for phones and Honeycomb for tablets. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will be a single OS for both kinds of devices, with the user interface adapting to suit whichever form factor you throw at it.

A unified codebase means developers will only need to code their apps once for them to work on Android 4.0 phones and Android 4.0 tablets, and Google will offer a whole bunch of new APIs that developers can use to code apps for every kind of Android 4.0 device.

The Android 4.0 interface will look a lot like Honeycomb

Not a huge surprise, this one: the rather whizzy new interface from Honeycomb will be making its way to Android 4.0 - although as with previous incarnations, device manufacturers and/or network operators can create their own customised UIs too. The Android 4.0 UI will enable you to adjust the size of home screen widgets to better suit your particular preferences.

Android 4.0 specs include USB hosting

The Android Open Accessory programme brings third-party devices into the Android fold, potentially enabling you to connect anything from an Xbox controller or USB mouse for Android games to a heart monitor for fitness apps. Accessories will initially connect via USB, with Bluetooth coming along shortly afterwards.

Android 4.0 features include goodies for phone users

Android 4.0 phone users will get an expanded multitasking tool and a system manager that ensures you don't run out of memory.

Android 4.0 software will track your face

Your Android 4.0 phone or tablet's camera will be doing some potentially nifty facial recognition, tracking the movement of your head and adjusting the on-screen image accordingly to create a pseudo-3D effect.

Google has also demoed videoconferencing that uses the feature to focus the camera on the person you want to look at, which is fine unless you're staring at someone good-looking while talking to somebody who's been hit with the ugly stick.

The Android 4.0 system requirements could be hefty

Leaked details suggest that the Google Nexus 3, Google's reference handset, will have a 1.2 or 1.5GHz processor (although some of the more excited rumours predict a quad-core Kal-El processor), 1GB of RAM, a "monster-sized" display, 1080p video capture and an ultra-thin body. US customers get 4G mobile internet too.

Android 4.0 hardware will be relatively future-proof

Google has persuaded its manufacturing partners to agree that when they make new kit, it'll support the latest Android updates for at least eighteen months, and firms such as Samsung promise that they'll be dishing out upgrades much more quickly than before. The aim is to prevent embarrassing "where's my upgrade?" howls from existing and future Android customers.

2 comments:

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