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android ice cream sandwichNot 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.

Take Screenshots

android ice cream sandwich
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

ice cream sandwich
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

ice cream sandwich
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

ice cream sandwich
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!

Private Browsing

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

ice cream sandwich tips
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.

Resizeable Widgets

ice cream sandwich tips
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

ice cream sandwich tips
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

android ice cream sandwich
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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  1. Siddhant Chaurasia
    September 18, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Nice Posting Here

  2. Akash Kotak
    September 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm


  3. jalemma
    August 30, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Hey on my galaxy s2 when i press the power button it does not lock

  4. Emmanuel Olalere
    August 25, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Nice!, thanks for the tips

  5. Ahmed Khalil
    August 25, 2012 at 10:18 am

    i prefer IOS

  6. Saurabh Kumar
    August 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    And thanks for the information..expecting my ICS tablet soon..:)

  7. Saurabh Kumar
    August 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Swype with contact and unlock with g mail account is also available in android 2.2 froyo :)

  8. Tony Batty
    August 24, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Hey! Folks I own a Samsung Galaxy Y (GT-S5360L) with Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) and need to upgrade to the recent update, can anyone help. Post you comments here, Thnx.

  9. xbalesx
    August 24, 2012 at 2:47 am

    Waiting for this to come to my HTC Droid Incredible 2...patiently....grrrrrrr. Great info though, thanks for providing great info.

  10. Edgar Meixueiro
    August 23, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    I'm still stuck with Gingerbread. What a shame!

  11. Edward Bellair
    August 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Saving this. One day soon my phone is supposed to get this upgrade. 4G is supposed to come to my area and unicorns have been spotted on mars. Freaking verizon.

  12. James
    August 23, 2012 at 2:50 am

    I have At&t galaxy note LTE i717 CARBON BLUE. I have the ICS update from Samsung and all these tricks do work for my device. Thanks I did not know of the pic and video trick nice it works to thanks Danny boy!!! LOL

  13. Kannon Y
    August 22, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    I believe ICS also added USB host mode, which requires an OTG adapter.

    The information on this is sketchy, but it appears that you can attach gamepads, keyboards, modems (etc) and USB flash drives - provided you have the required adapter.

  14. Lynn
    August 22, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I waited a day to see the other comments. From what I've read, am I safe to assume
    that seeing the weather on a locked screen is not possible for all of us. I've got a RAZR MAXX with ICE (4.0.4) and there is no Weather under Settings, Display, nor under the weather app's settings.

  15. sam
    August 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm


    Please, speak English, or speak French, but, really...

    • Erin
      August 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      Whala is not a word in English or French. The word you're looking for is voila.

  16. Jason Williams
    August 21, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    great article, i just got ICS on my phone and was not aware of most of these.

    • Danny Stieben
      August 22, 2012 at 6:49 am

      Glad you enjoyed it!

      • Totoy Badiola
        September 10, 2012 at 8:11 pm

        The gist is, he was not aware of it. Maybe, he could also find out how to access these features you mentioned here.

  17. Craig
    August 21, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    While this article contains a lot of interesting information about what is available in ICS, it lacks what is essential: how to find all these features.
    Surely, the research done to find them would have produced information about how to access them.
    Cue for a follow-up article

    • Danny Stieben
      August 22, 2012 at 6:49 am

      Again, my apologies. I should have added more instructions on how to get to them.

  18. Taylor Ling
    August 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Some of the features shown here definitely not Ice Cream Sandwich stock feature. The title is misleading.

    Weather in lockscreen, Contact swipe action, and Task Manager isn't part of the ICS/JB. And resizing widget in stock ICS will not have the resize dialog.

    • Danny Stieben
      August 22, 2012 at 6:48 am

      In my defence, I saw the weather on lockscreen mentioned multiple times online, I could've sworn the contact swipe actions were ICS-wide, and I know for a fact that the Task Manager is on all ICS devices. Are you sure you're holding down the home button?

      At least I learn something every day!

      • Taylor Ling
        August 22, 2012 at 9:01 am


        If you are talking about 'stock' ICS/JB features, those features that I mentioned are definitely not part of them. I owned both Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 running stock ROM and I know them pretty well.

        There isn't any settings for weather in lockscreen within Settings. Contact swipe action is impossible in stock ICS/JB because in the contacts app, swiping change the tab. There is no task manager in stock ICS/JB, holding the home button shows the Recent App switcher, and there is no Task Manager button.

        These features are added by Samsung as part of the TouchWiz UX.

        • Danny Stieben
          August 22, 2012 at 9:05 am

          Ugh, Samsung is killing me with their TouchWiz. The default UI for ICS is so beautiful. ;(

          And d'oh! The Recent App switcher is actually what I the article I never mentioned the Task Manager however. I just mentioned multitasking.

  19. AP
    August 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks, I will try them on my yet to buy new Galaxy S III.

  20. danny6114
    August 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Adding links or instructions to accomplish these things would've been very helpful.

    • Danny Stieben
      August 22, 2012 at 6:46 am

      I'm sorry, I probably should have added some more. I assumed people can figure out that features concerning contacts will be found in the contacts book, call features among others in the settings, and so forth.

  21. Timothy Liem
    August 21, 2012 at 9:24 am

    yeah! that's why I love ice creams! innovation, technology, Google, and best of all, open source!

  22. muotechguy
    August 21, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I think claiming "most users have ICS installed or will upgraded soon" is a little optimistic. Latest figures show a whopping 16%. (

    Also, actual instructions would be nice. "you can turn weather on your lock screen" is not particular helpful. I can't find that on my Nexus 7, which is jellybean admittedly, but would have thought it would still be there. Is this a phone specific thing like another commented alluded to?

    • Danny Stieben
      August 22, 2012 at 6:44 am

      16% might have it installed right now, but there are plenty of other devices which have it planned, or others will be upgrading to ICS devices.

      I admit for some I left out the instructions on accident. For the weather feature, it was under Settings --> Display --> Weather.

  23. Shawn Kemper
    August 21, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Wow... you really don't know much about Android, do you? Why don't I go over the errors I can find one by one?

    - "most phones are still using Android Ice Cream Sandwich or will be updated to it soon"
    No, actually. Very few Android phones are running ICS. Most are running Gingerbread. The only major models that I can think of that are running ICS are the HTC One series and many of the Samsung Galaxy S 2 and 3 variants (the AOSP Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S have already been updated to Jelly Bean).

    -Take Screenshots
    The screenshot option in the power menu is not in stock ICS, and the power + home combination is one Samsung put into their skin (it also works on Gingerbread on those phones, and coincedentally is the same combination used to take a screenshot on the iPhone). The combination in stock ICS (and Jelly Bean) is power + volume down.

    -Multitask With Ease
    The Galaxy Nexus and some other phones (notably the HTC One series), as well as any Android tablet designed for Honeycomb or above have a multitasking button, and holding the home button on them will not bring up the task list.
    It also isn't a good way to make sure an app is closed when you told it to, it doesn't reflect running apps, just ones that you've used recently. In ICS+ you can swipe apps out of it, but they can still be running in the background, and you can force close them and they'll still appear there.
    Also, holding down the home button works in Gingerbread and lower (down to Eclair, I think), but it doesn't bring up a list of thumbnails, just icons for the apps.

    -Contact Swipe Actions
    This is a feature in Samsung's TouchWiz skin. It isn't in stock Android. At all.

    -Unlock With Your Face
    Notable downside: photos of you will work. Jelly Bean adds an option that would force you to blink to prove you're not a photo, though.

    -Take Pictures While Shooting A Video
    Not in stock Android. The way you've described only works on some Samsung phones. The HTC One series can do it too, but they have separate capture video and capture photo buttons.

    -Speak Your Words
    You fail to mention that it's even better in Jelly Bean - it works offline!

    -Advanced Call Options
    That's a feature in Samsung's TouchWiz skin, and probably a few custom ROMs, but it's not in stock Android.

    -Transfer Data with Android Beam
    Most high-specced Android phones these days have NFC chips, but some phones that are being upgraded to ICS don't, and they can't use Android Beam.
    Also, Android Beam itself is only used for links and small files - the Galaxy S 3 can transfer photos and videos with it by using NFC to set up a Wi-Fi Direct link with another recent Samsung phone, but stock Android won't do that.

    -Resizable Widgets
    Not every widget can be resized. Some third party launchers support resizable widgets, and some (LauncherPro comes to mind) have been able to resize widgets since before ICS - in LauncherPro's case, even ones that can't normally be resized. That widget size popup isn't in stock Android either, that's part of the launcher you're using. Also, this isn't new to ICS. Honeycomb added it in 3.2 I think (that or 3.1, it wasn't in 3.0).

    -Weather On Your Lock Screen
    Not in stock ICS at all. By the looks of it you're using Samsung's lock screen, which can do it. WidgetLocker could probably also do it.

    -Keyboard Layouts In Different Languages
    You misspelled Swype, and third party keyboards have been able to do this for ages (as has the stock keyboard for a while I think, I don't have any older devices to test with).

    Maybe you should learn about Android before you start writing about it.
    I'm sorry to sound so scathing. It's just the way I am.

  24. Ray
    August 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    A lot of those features are not ICS at all but rather touchwiz features, which is Samsung's custom "skin".

    • muotechguy
      August 21, 2012 at 8:18 am

      In fairness, the first 3 are definately ICS. Jellybean also improves on face unlock with optional blink requirement.

    • Danny Stieben
      August 22, 2012 at 6:42 am

      I'm sorry, but most of those *aren't* TouchWiz features. I'm using a different launcher than TouchWiz, so they are in fact ICS features. One or two might have slipped, but the rest are definitely.

  25. Sigifredo Zapata
    August 20, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Can't wait to get my Galaxy S III....

  26. J
    August 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    For the "Weather On Your Lock Screen", you say it can be done but not how to do it. Care to provide additional information? I'm not seeing that option anywhere in my settings.

    • Daniel
      August 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      That tip also looks like it's related to the device he's using and not a standard ICS feature.

      • J
        August 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm

        Could be. If that's the case then it really has no place in this article, which is about ICS.

        Thanks for the reply!

      • Totoy Badiola
        September 10, 2012 at 8:08 pm

        I agree. I am using Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and some of these features you mentioned are invisible to me. Can you revise this article and show the readers how we can access these features that you mentioned? Many thanks.

    • Danny Stieben
      August 22, 2012 at 6:40 am

      It should be under Settings --> Display --> Weather. I've found it mentioned multiple times online so I was pretty sure it was an ICS feature.

      • muotechguy
        August 22, 2012 at 7:38 am

        Yeh, that setting doesnt exist, on Jellybean at least. I doubt they would have *removed* it, more likely device specific. Are you running a cyanogen mod by any chance?

        • Danny Stieben
          August 22, 2012 at 7:48 am

          A separate phone does, but not the main phone I was going off of. CyanogenMod has lock screen items placed in a different area of the Settings menu.

          Apparently some features I just took for granted! I see that more and more now.

      • J
        August 22, 2012 at 10:23 am

        That setting does not exist on my stock ICS Galaxy Nexus. It would be pretty nice if it did, though. :/

  27. Daniel
    August 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    As far as I know. Both the "Take Pictures While Shooting A Video" tip and the "Advanced Call Options" tip are not stock Ice Cream Sandwich features. It looks like they were added by whatever "skin" your device maker added on top of the stock Android experience.

    • Lee
      August 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm

      This. I tried it on my (almost) stock Asus Transformer Pad 300 with the camera and if you tap the screen, it just refocuses and adjusts the white balance.

    • Taylor Ling
      August 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      Take picture while shooting video IS a feature in ICS. I can do it with my Galaxy Nexus running ICS/JB.

    • Danny Stieben
      August 22, 2012 at 6:39 am

      I'm sorry if that's the case. But the "take pictures while shooting a video" feature works for me, and "advanced call options" can be found in your Call settings or motion settings.