We have some great new info on potential features in Google's next Android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich. Many of the features you will read about in the article below are based on factual evidence, but a few are speculative. All of these features may not show up in ICS, but instead could appear in the future. Still, these are some impressive features to look out for in whatever new version of Android Google creates. The original article over at AndroidPolice includes a few more details and some videos, but we covered most of the juicy tidbits here. If you want to check out the videos we have provided a source link at the end of the story. Here are the features that could show up in your next Android device:
Google Android OS Featureset Wishlist:
- Device to Device NFC Sharing = This feature takes the NFC technology beyond just mobile wallet applications. According to sources, "0-click sharing" is the plan and this means no preparation, no app to open, just tap 2 devices together and it shares pictures, music, files, calendar events, videos, and websites. - This feature has been confirmed by a Google engineer to be planned for ICS. - Of course, you will need an NFC enabled device to utilize this functionality.
- Better Text to Speech = The current text to speech engine for Androids has not been updated since its beginning release and is rather lackluster, to say the least. However, in December of 2010 Google bought the speech synthesis company Phonetic Arts, and it is possible they will be implementing the newer technology from this company in ICS. Phonetic Arts was a worldwide leader in speech tech, so we could see some great improvements.
- A Better Keyboard = Another acquisition that Google made in October of 2010 was a keyboard company called "Blindtype." This could mean vastly improved text correction options.
- A Much Faster Emulator = The current Honeycomb emulator is extremely slow, which is a source of frustration for developers; however, at Google I/O 2011, they demonstrated a much faster emulator, and even played a 3D game on it. At that time, they indicated it could be ready in a "couple of months." Of course, that was 4 months ago, and ICS will make 6 months, so it is highly probable we will see it in ICS.
- Back To Open Source = Honeycomb temporarily moved away from open source so that Google could rush out a competing tablet OS to the iPad. It was never their intention of making the tablet OS permanently closed, but it allowed them at that time to control the code more quickly without having to worry about making it open source. Here's a quote from the AndroidPolice article with the skinny on the future,Luckily this is going to change. The big cheese said so himself on the Official Android Developers blog, "This temporary delay does not represent a change in strategy. We remain firmly committed to providing Android as an open source platform across many device types." Source code is coming back. This will make the modding community's life much easier. Cyanogenmod 8 (I got excited just typing that) and Ice Cream Sandwich will be able to get hacked onto just about anything.
- Head Tracking APIs = Head tracking allows your Android device to track you head movements and position. This allows video software to auto zoom on your face or use face distortion gimmicks. It also allows for 3D software to change your perspective in a 3D scene by your head movements. According to the Day One Keynote from Google I/O 2011, this will be available as an API for developers when ICS is released.
- Android@Home = The name of the game here is controlling all your home electronics and devices remotely with Android. You will be able to control lights, speakers, and music players. They are even working on building the protocol into other devices like lamps, alarm clocks, thermostats, switches, and dishwashers. The first company coming out with a product for this is Lighting Science, with an LED Light bulb and programmed switch. This is due at the end of 2011, but some devices may become available as soon as ICS is released (like the Lighting Science Bulb above).
- All That Honeycomb Goodness On Phones = Last, but not least, we will have the added functionality of all the Honeycomb features for our phones. Here's a difference breakdown for you:
It certainly seems like Google is doing more than a slight evolution of the Android product with Ice Cream Sandwich. This new version is like a whole new stage of awesomeness. Eric Schmidt has indicated that we should see it in October or November. What do you guys think? Does this get you more excited about ICS?
- Hardware Accelerated UI
- Ground-up Multicore Support
- The Tron Theme
- Virtual Buttons
- Resizable and Scrollable Widgets
- New Keyboard
- Notification Controls
- A Tabbed Browser
- Chrome Bookmark Sync
- HD Youtube
- Redesigned Camera, Calendar, Contacts, Gmail, Gallery and Email Apps
- Encrypted Storage
- USB Host and Bluetooth Support for Mass Storage Devices, Keyboards, Mice, Gamepads, Joysticks, and Cameras
- Wi-Fi Proxy Settings
- Auto Account Login
- Media Scanner is Out, Media Sync is In