Not all too long ago, Google released the next great upgrade to the Android mobile operating system, version 4.o codenamed “Ice Cream Sandwich”, or ICS for short. While in the meantime Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” has been released, most phones are still using Android Ice Cream Sandwich or will be updated to it soon.
Therefore, most people will be interested about what cool tricks ICS can bring to the table. I have to admit though, even I didn’t know everything on this list before I did my research.
Did you know that you can easily take screenshots with your ICS device without installing an additional app? If an option to take a screenshot doesn’t appear in the menu which appears after you hold the power button, you can also take screenshots by simultaneously holding down either the power and home buttons, or power and volume down buttons. A frame will appear around your screen, letting you know it has taken the screenshot.
Multitask With Ease
Multitasking in ICS has been improved quite a bit. In fact, on any screen, you can hold your Home button and a list of all running applications will appear. From here, you can easily tap on one to switch to it, or swipe it away to close to completely. This is also a good way of making sure that an app is really closed when you told it to.
Contact Swipe Actions
While not a new feature in ICS, you can find a contact in your contacts list and swipe to the right to call them or swipe to the left to send them a text message. This is a quicker way of contacting them through your preferred method instead of having to make a couple extra taps.
Unlock With Your Face
There’s a new way to unlock your phone! Forget using PINs or patterns when you can just use your device’s front-facing camera to scan your face! While this technique is fun and quite easy to use when it works, it’s not fool-proof and requires multiple pictures of your face in different lighting environments for it to work most of the time. As a failsafe, you’ll also have to set up an alternative unlock method so you can still get into your phone.
Take Pictures While Shooting A Video
In the past, we’ve only been able to shoot videos or snap pictures, but not both. That’s all about to change, as our camera apps are now capable of doing them at the same time. While shooting a video, just tap on your screen to take a photo. Whala!
Speak Your Words
Also not a new feature in ICS, you can now use Voice to Text in many more applications. In fact, it should be available for any text box now where your keyboard appears. It’s been improved quite a bit in ICS, so it’s worth giving a spin to give your fingers some much-needed rest.
Advanced Call Options
You can now customize how you’d like to end or deny calls in ICS. In the options, you can opt to use the power button as a way to end or deny a call so you don’t have to go hunting for the red “End Call” button. You can also deny phone calls on-screen and choose to send a text message instead from a few different templates. These settings can be found in the “Call” section of your device’s overall settings. Makes keeping people informed quite easy!
A fantastic addition to ICS is the ability to create “private” tabs, which behave exactly like the Private Browsing mode in Firefox or Incognito windows in Chrome. Generally speaking, the entire tab management has improved in Android’s default browser, but private tabs are a welcome addition.
Unlock Using Your Google Account
If you’ve forgotten your PIN, password, or pattern, no need to freak out. Your phone won’t lock you out, turning your expensive piece of hardware into an even more expensive paperweight. Instead, when you hit the “locked out” phase of your distress, you’ll instead be asked to simply log back into your Google account to unlock your phone. Be sure to remember which one you chose for your phone, or else you’ll really have a paperweight in your hands!
Track Data Usage
As most of today’s data plans have data caps — usually around 2GB in America — it’s become quite important for people to keep track of their data usage. ICS devices can now do this, and even warn you when you’re getting close to that limit. Just go into your settings and choose Data Usage. You can choose a different warning level, and even opt to disable mobile data entirely once a certain amount has been reached if your carrier will charge you extra for additional data. Scrolling down presents you a list of your most data-hungry apps.
Transfer Data with Android Beam
Android Beam is a brand new technology which makes transferring data between two capable devices extremely easy. The technology uses NFC, or near field communication, as the method of communication, but the phones need to be running ICS to be Android Beam capable. With it, you can easily transfer photos as well as other multimedia.
Provided you’re not using a third-party launcher, you’ll now find your widgets in your application menu by either tapping on the “Widgets” tab or by swiping past all your installed apps. All these widgets are also resizeable, so you’re not forced to hold back from a widget just because you don’t have enough screen real estate.
Weather On Your Lock Screen
If you’d like, you can tell your device to have the local weather conditions appear on your lock screen. There aren’t many settings to configure besides on/off and temperature units, as the device will use your current location. It’s a very quick and easy way of determining whether you’ll need an umbrella or sweater.
Swipe Away Selected Notifications
If you have plenty of notifications waiting for you in the notifications area, but don’t want to dismiss all of them, you can swipe away those who’d like to dismiss. Just swipe the one(s) you’d like to remove to the right, and away they go. As always, you can hit the X in the top right corner to dismiss all notifications.
Keyboard Layouts In Different Languages
Your device should be capable of supporting keyboard layouts for multiple languages. I know this is definitely the case for phones which use Swipe, where the languages only need to be enabled before you can switch them on the keyboard itself with a single tap. This is great for international users who constantly need to type in more than one language.
And there you go! Those are 15 of the best tips available with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, all of which are extremely useful. Hopefully with this knowledge you can get a lot more done with your device, or just accomplish what you wish faster and more efficiently. Plus it’s a great way to brag to your iOS-toting friends about what your Android beast can do.
Don’t forget to check out our amazing MakeUseOf guide on Android!
Did I miss a tip? What are you still missing from Android, whether it be original or something found in iOS? Let us know in the comments!
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