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Android Ice Cream Sandwich SDK Released 309

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the symbian-did-it-ten-years-ago dept.
Hitting the front page for the first time, ttong writes "The highly anticipated Android 4.0 (codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich) has been released and finally brings the features of 3.x Honeycomb to smaller devices. Some of the highlights include: a revamped UI, a much faster browser, face unlock, a vastly improved camera app, improved task switching, streaming voice recognition, Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth Health Device Profile. ... The API level is 14, download the new SDK here." calc noted that the source code has yet to be released (Google account required) except to legally required GPL components. Supposedly progress is being made toward getting AOSP back online: "We're working on it and we're making good progress, but we're not ready to announce any additional details yet." How many of the new features will remain proprietary and tied to Google services remains to be seen.

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Android Ice Cream Sandwich SDK Released

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  • Do you get wafers with it?
    What flavours are available?

  • It says there on the website that "The new voice input engine lets users dictate the text they want, for as long as they want, using the language they want.", but... well, is it really true? Can I just start blabbing out in Finnish, or does that actually mean "using the language they want as long as it's one of the few select languages"? If it's the latter then it's obviously not all that useful or wonderful as they make it out to be.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      If Google had invented the universal translator, they might have made a slightly bigger deal out of it.
      So my guess is that it's limited to the languages you specify, just like the keyboard.

      • You kinds of missed my point. My point was that they're just outright lying if they claim you can use whatever language you wish if that ain't true, and that it's simply nothing new then; everyone does that nowadays.

      • by gsslay (807818)

        Allowing input in multiple languages is not the same as translating multiple languages. Google could be allowing input through every and any language on the planet, and it still wouldn't be translating anything.

        But seriously, the current Google voice input can't even handle accents, never mind handle any language. It's laughably useless in at least 50% of its attempts, which makes it totally useless. If they're being honest with their description here it will be a massive step forward.

        And can I switch

  • Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @09:10AM (#37761160)

    face unlock

    Does that mean if someone steals my phone and my wallet, all they have to do is hold the drivers license up to the cam to unlock? Sounds like a very bad idea.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And do you really think that you won't have the option to turn this off?

    • by grommit (97148)

      Quick, you need to tell Google because there is no doubt that they didn't think about this workaround already!

      Of course, that'll be one of the first things that I test out when I get ICS. :)

    • face unlock

      Does that mean if someone steals my phone and my wallet, all they have to do is hold the drivers license up to the cam to unlock? Sounds like a very bad idea.

      When I first read the term "face unlock", I thought it was that system where they put up a grid of random faces and you pick the one that you recognize. I'd much rather see that in effect than this facial recognition system.

      Mind you, if it could recognize my ear instead of my face...

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Recognizing a face is probably a lot harder than distinguishing whether whatever is on the camera is dead or alive, so my guess is that it won't work.

    • by Asic Eng (193332)

      Well it's more secure then just "slide to unlock" and it's not as inconvenient as a more secure screen lock.

      Secure screen locks are a bit of a problem with smart phones, since (in order to save battery) the lock engages so often. It would be nice if there was an option to have different locks - just a slide if you haven't used the phone for a minute, and e.g. a PIN if you haven't used it in 15 mins or so.

      • ^^^ what he said. Maybe take advantage of the Hall Effect sensor to be aware of when the phone ceases to be in close proximity to some large, blunt fleshy object (hand, thigh/butt adjacent to phone in pocket, etc) and progressively escalate the security as the phone's body-presence is interrupted or as time passes with inactivity. Perhaps monitor the accelerometer for motions that could indicate grabbing/dropping, setting down on a table, orientation (face up/face down), etc. Put the phone on a table face u

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        Well it's more secure then just "slide to unlock" and it's not as inconvenient as a more secure screen lock.

        Secure screen locks are a bit of a problem with smart phones, since (in order to save battery) the lock engages so often. It would be nice if there was an option to have different locks - just a slide if you haven't used the phone for a minute, and e.g. a PIN if you haven't used it in 15 mins or so.

        Yeah, it's a wonder they haven't thought of that... Er wait no they did that exactly. You can set the PIN to engage only after a set interval that can be longer than the screen timeout. Slightly less secure but a lot less annoying if you are prone to using your phone for short, frequent bursts during the day.

    • by jrumney (197329)
      It might still be an improvement over "run your finger along the visible smearmarks on the screen" method of unlocking.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      From the video face unlock is enough of a pain that most people will probably turn it off after showing it to all their friends anyway.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      A little digging into focus distance data will give the phone more than enough info it needs to tell the difference between an actual life-size face and a tiny little image of a face on a card... Also, most (all?) photo IDs have security features including watermarks, overlays, and holograms that could be detected and used to negate the scan. Or, as many have pointed out, just don't tell it what your face looks like and stick with putting in a pin or using a silly little puzzle to unlock it. Whatever lets

      • Use a body part that isn't visible in your ID photo.

        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          Facial recognition is not just a "how much does this pic look like that pic" type of operation. The algorithm (or a useful algorithm anyway) looks at the key metrics of your face, such as pupil separation vs distance from eyes to mouth (to judge distance and aspect ratio) and then looks at nose size, jaw width, ear width, and a number of other features to determine if the two faces are identical. Otherwise, you would lock yourself out of your phone (in this case) by simply growing a beard or adding/removi

  • Updates to phones (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dogmatixpsych (786818) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @09:38AM (#37761462) Homepage Journal
    I just hope that my phone gets updated to this. I'm still stuck with Froyo and my phone just came out in July. That's one of the most frustrating aspects of Android phones - the manufacturers do not upgrade the phones. With the quick turnover in phone OSes, it's inexcusable for manufacturers to stick with old OSes. I can understand if the phone hardware cannot handle the upgrade but I know that many phone manufacturers simply do not want to support their devices. Instead, to get updates we have to turn to CyanogenMod. This is one reason iPhones are so popular (yes, I know Android is overtaking iOS but the iPhone is the most popular smartphone model), at least Apple does a good job of updating iOS and getting it to as many iPhones as possible.

    All this being said, Android 4.0 looks great.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Assuming the driver model is compatible, upgrading Android really shouldn't be as troublesome as it is.
      It's a good point where iOS wins (though still by far not enough for me to even consider an iPhone).

    • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @12:06PM (#37763392) Homepage Journal

      That's one of the most frustrating aspects of Android phones - the manufacturers do not upgrade the phones.

      It's starting to look like one of Android's greatest weaknesses is that people flame manufacturers, but don't mention their name yet do mention Android's name in spite of the fact that Android had nothing to do with the problem they had.

      Dude: name names. Someone sold you an un-upgradable phone and you won't say who? Thanks, now they will be free to pull the same bullshit on me.

      If we were talking about desktop computers instead of phones, you wouldn't be talking shit about the OS not being upgradable; you'd be warning the world against the desktop computer manufacturer and their user-hostile BIOS.

      • It's starting to look like one of Android's greatest weaknesses is that people flame manufacturers, but don't mention their name yet do mention Android's name in spite of the fact that Android had nothing to do with the problem they had.

        That's because pretty much ALL of the Android phones have this problem. The only phones I know that *may* not have a problem are the ones commissioned by Google.

        Dude: name names. Someone sold you an un-upgradable phone and you won't say who? Thanks, now they will be free to

        • Also why would a manufacturer spend money updating your phone when they rather you buy a new one?

          I'm sure Apple would also rather everyone buy a new iPhone every year, and yet they bend over backwards to get the latest OS working on every conceivable model they have sold. Same with the Google phones, from what I understand.

          The manufacturers who ship Android phones and then never publish updates obviously don't care one bit about their customers experience. It's as if they don't even perceive the people they sell to as "customers", but rather as "transaction generators". This approach might work fi

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      I just hope that my phone gets updated to this. I'm still stuck with Froyo and my phone just came out in July. That's one of the most frustrating aspects of Android phones - the manufacturers do not upgrade the phones. With the quick turnover in phone OSes, it's inexcusable for manufacturers to stick with old OSes. I can understand if the phone hardware cannot handle the upgrade but I know that many phone manufacturers simply do not want to support their devices. Instead, to get updates we have to turn to C

  • Where's the full disk encryption? I shouldn't have to rely on a 3rd party app like that Whisper Systems product to provide some fundamental data security for the device.

    Considering what these devices are connected to (social networking, email, contacts, pictures etc) you'd think that this was a higher priority than a new font for the clock.
    • Honeycomb does provide that, so I would also imagine ICS providing that. Perhaps someone just forgot to mention it?

      • Pretty big thing to fail to mention! It's fundamental to Android being a contender to Blackberry in the corporate world.
        • Well, it seems I was indeed correct, the other poster did provide with a link that confirmed that there is indeed full device-wide encryption on ICS, too. And yes, I agree that it is an important thing to mention and the fail is pretty hefty.

          • by Sark666 (756464)

            Why isn't multi-user support not more important? Maybe not so much in phones, but definitely tablets. If I am at my bro's and my nephew wants to play angry birds on my tablet, I should be able to hand it to him with confidence that he can't see my emails etc. And maybe a limited user (guest) account that can't install/uninstall stuff etc. Why does it have to be like win98 again?!

      • It made it in as anticipated: https://plus.google.com/112413860260589530492/posts/DDTKFhiDS9U [google.com]
    • by Hatta (162192)

      If Google provided full disk encryption, would you trust it?

      • If Google provided full disk encryption, would you trust it?

        Why not? They already have access to your data, the encryption is to keep outsiders from accessing it.

        • by Hatta (162192)

          Really? I haven't used android, so this may be a stupid question. Is everything stored in the cloud? Are android tablets just completely unusable without a network connection?

    • This is from one of the Android devs:
      https://plus.google.com/112413860260589530492/posts/DDTKFhiDS9U [google.com]

      "Support for Encryption for Phones
      Honeycomb added full-device encryption, but ICS brings it to phones."

      Guess they figured it too boring for the launch demo.

  • by Dennis Sheil (1706056) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @03:04PM (#37765494)

    I do Android development, and I had a look at the SDK and emulator when it was released last night. I created an emulator and was testing my applications out on it.

    The first thing I noticed is that there are more help screens. I believe they disappear after first use, but they tell users how to navigate around the phone. Or tablet as it may be - that's probably the biggest thing about ICS, it integrates Gingerbread (smartphones) and Honeycomb (tablets) into one OS. I've been getting the hang of Android layout, and it is not so hard once you get used to it, you just stick with the things they recommend - density-independent pixels, scale-independent pixels, objects sized by width and/or height by fill-parent (fill layout container object is in) or wrap-object (make object only as large as it need be), objects or layout containers being assigned by weight. One trick I learned - I start design with the smallest device - WVGA - a small device with a low number of dots per inch. I do a portrait (device held with more height than width), and if I have time a landscape (device held with more width than height) view. Sometimes that is enough, and those two layouts work from the smallest to largest devices. Usually it requires a little tweaking, especially Activity classes that make use of buttons. You take the layouts you made and increase text size, increase the distance between objects and other objects, or objects and the edge of the screen. Some people rethink the design, they use Fragments so that where something that would be done on a small screen with ten screen changes with ten different Activity views, is now done with five screen changes with the same ten different Activity views - you just use Fragments to put two or so Activity views per screen. The ICS smartphone/tablet integration will help in that department, although you can do it to some extent already. In fact Fragments were introduced in Honeycomb (the old tablet Android version, before this ICS tablet/smartphone integration), so some of this is just bringing Honeycomb advances back to the smartphone. Another example of this is the Actionbar - over time the Android designers realized it would help UI consistency, ease of programming etc. if they put a bar on top that let people do things (open an email, go to the next page, whatever). So Actionbar was in Honeycomb, now it is in ICS as well. I should mention there is a compatibility package which allows apps to use many (but not all) of these new features on older phones like Gingerbread, Froyo, Eclair etc.

    The next thing I noticed when looking at my apps in the ICS emulator is the new Roboto font. It is said to be able to be a good font for everything from a small, low density to a large screen with a high density. Some of my apps use the Android non-default fonts, and the ones I looked at looked most the same, although there may have been small tweaks I did not notice. And Android lets you use your own fonts.

    One of my applications runs in the background, doing a database search while updating a progress bar - and while all of this is happening, an ad is often being loaded as well via the web. It seems to be stalling on something in the ICS emulator, I will do some debugging later to see where it is getting stuck. It may be one of those cases where I was doing something wrong but Android allowed it, and they increased the strictness of things. With ICS's use of Fragments, I can probably just load one ad Fragment when my app starts and put that on every screen anyhow.

    Regarding source code, I'm sure it will be released. It will be a month or so before you can buy a Samsung Galaxy Nexus anyhow. The sooner the release the better for me, but Android's open nature beats Windows 8 Mango and iOS any day. I can sit at my Linux box, use open source tools to develop everything, and then just push it out to Android Market (or some other market - Android does not lock phones to their store like Apple does). It is beyond me why Apple punishes developers with an app sto

  • by Raenex (947668) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @03:56PM (#37766260)

    Like we did for all Honeycomb release, this is NOT the full source tree for IceCreamSandwich, these are only the GPL parts that are in the SDK (along with a few associated files), and they're not enough to build the whole IceCreamSandwich for a device.

    One of the fundamental principles behind the GPL is that if you used GPL parts to make a whole work, then the whole work must also be GPL:

    "You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License. "

    "These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works. But when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it. "

    It's quite obvious that "IceCreamSandwich" is a whole work, and that it contains GPL parts.

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