Android Ice Cream Sandwich Explained

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Visual Voicemail

Finally, Android is getting the ability to manage and review voicemail on the screen, instead of over the phone. Third-party apps will be able to integrate Android’s visual voicemail for added services such as transcription.

Better Speech-to-Text

It’s no Siri, but Ice Cream Sandwich has some big speech-to-text improvements over previous versions of Android. Text now streams to the screen in real-time as you talk, and potential translation errors are highlighted in gray, letting you make revisions by tapping on each misheard word.

(MORE: Samsung Announces Android Flagship ‘Galaxy Nexus’ Smartphone)

Camera Effects and Photo Editing

While we wait for Instagram to release an Android app, Google’s added its own effects—including hipster effects—to the camera in Ice Cream Sandwich. The software also boasts zero shutter lag, continuous focus, tap-to-focus, face detection and panorama mode. Users can crop, rotate or apply more effects to images from the photo gallery.

NFC and Wi-Fi Direct Sharing

A new app called Android Beam will allow two NFC-enabled devices to share information, such as apps, contacts, photos and videos, simply by holding the phones up to one another. In lieu of NFC, Ice Cream Sandwich supports Wi-Fi Direct, which lets two nearby devices share data without an Internet connection or tethering.

Other Little Tweaks

Not all of Ice Cream Sandwich’s improvements deserve their own subheading, in my opinion, but here they are: In Ice Cream Sandwich, you can create folders by dragging one app on top of another (a la iOS). You can take screenshots and save web pages for offline reading. You can view data usage and set warnings or hard limits on data consumption. Widgets built into Ice Cream Sandwich are resizeable. The soft keyboard is improved, and a spell checker is implemented throughout the OS. And you can apply live photo effects during video chat.

WATCH: Is This Google Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich?

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