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A Lick of Ice Cream Sandwich : From A Developer's Perspective

With record sales of the iPhone 4S, the comeback of the Motorola Droid Razr, Google’s Nexus Prime, the unveiling of Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) and BlackBerry's newly announced operating system and strategy, this has been a bumper week in mobile technology news. Probably the most significant of these was Google’s ICS. Now in its fourth generation, the latest flavour of Android seeks to unify phones and tablets and enhance the platform even further. To gain a better understanding of what Ice Cream Sandwich means to developers, I caught up with Scott Bown, senior Android developer at Mubaloo.

"Personally I've been excited about ICS since its announcement back at Google IO in May" Bown told me. "For smartphone developers this is a big deal as we are basically getting two new Android releases in one go, with lots of new ICS features as well as loads of the exciting stuff for the tablet only Honeycomb, things like drag and drop, new flexible animation framework, system clip board, and finally a gorgeous new UI for smartphones."

Google has kept many features of Ice Cream Sandwich a well-kept secret from the wider community, only releasing its SDK to developers after its announcement. Being Android, each of the separate OEMs and mobile operators will assess when they decide to make ICS available to devices and subscribers, giving developers time to tweak apps to work seamlessly on the new version. As is normally the case with Android, those wanting the purest experience will be able to purchase the Samsung Galaxy Nexus in the next few weeks.

Looking at some of the most significant features of ICS, Bown explains, "The new Android Beam functionality will introduce a new way to share contacts, websites, images and other bits of information. In the enterprise world, this could be used effectively to share information internally, use for time keeping and help track the productivity of employees. Other elements that stood out include enhancements to the Camera API to introduce face detection. This should add a whole new dimension to apps. The use case demoed was a way to unlock devices from a user’s face. For developers this could mean being able to integrate auto face tagging in images, for many professions and consumers, this could be a real time saver.”