When Google announced their latest version of Android, deliciously titled Ice Cream Sandwich (or Android 4.0, though that somehow sounds a bit colder), back in December the only phone known to be getting the upgrade was the simultaneously announced Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Fortunately, Verizon has recently released a list of phones that will be making the leap forward. HTC’s Thunderbolt, Droid Incredible 2, Rhyme, and Rezound will join Motorola’s Bionic, Razr, Razr Maxx, and Droid 4 as well as LG’s Spectrum in an update to the newest version of Google’s flagship operating system. Samsung’s 10.1 and 7.7 Galaxy tablets and Motorola’s Xoom, Droid Xyboard 8.2, and Xyboard 10.1 will also be coming to the party —welcome news as customizable widget sizes and other improvements aim to make the widely varied and highly customizable Android a more ergonomic OS for tablets and viable competitor to Apple’s much touted and undeniably successful iPad.
Other changes include a customizable launcher, improved error correction for the keyboard, a new tabbed web browser which can autosync with your home PC’s Chrome bookmarks, social network integration, and easier to use and create folders. Perhaps the most intriguing new functions are the Android Beam—which will allow users to instantly exchange directions, videos, websites, and other information between two different devices—and Face Unlock—a locking program that uses facial recognition to keep access to your mobile set limited to you and you alone (unless, of course, you have an identical twin). Control freaks and battery drainers alike will be thrilled to know they’ll now have the ability to kill apps which hog data in the background and disable the dreaded preloaded carrier apps disdainfully dubbed “bloatware.” The settings section will now also allow you to set warnings as your approach your monthly data limits and disable data usage entirely if you go over them.
Though some of this news is a bit old, it has found new relevance with the expansion of phones and tablets that can make use of it, and coincides with some new improvements that even those who won’t be getting their hands on Ice Cream Sandwich can take solace in. Google has recently rebranded many of their apps and programs under the new umbrella of Google Play. This cloud service can store up to 20,000 songs, rent thousands of movies, download 450,000 apps, and let you read from the world’s largest selection of eBooks all instantly and, should you so choose, without taking up memory on your phone, tablet, or computer. The Google cloud marks a new peak in interconnectivity between mobile and home devices.