Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Best New Features for Business

Google's Android mobile OS really wasn't designed for enterprise use; it's a consumer OS. But that doesn't mean the software won't be used in the enterprise. CIO.com's Al Sacco highlights eight new features in Google's latest mobile OS, Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich," that could be valuable to business users.

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Thu, October 20, 2011

CIO — Earlier this week, Google officially announced the latest version of its popular Android mobile OS, v4.0, a.k.a., "Ice Cream Sandwich," along with a brand new device that runs Android 4.0: The Samsung Galaxy Nexus--formerly referred to as the "Nexus Prime."

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Galaxy Nexus
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Galaxy Nexus

Though Google is really targeting consumers with Android 4.0, the new OS packs a handful of new features and functionality that could be valuable to businesspeople and the IT administrators who support them. The following list spotlights eight of the most noteworthy business features in Android 4.0, which should become available on a variety of new devices in addition to the Galaxy Nexus, and via software updates for some existing handhelds, in the coming weeks and months.

1) Android 4.0 Supports On-Device Encryption

The latest version of Android, 4.0, supports full on-device data encryption, according to Dan Morrill, a Google engineer who works on the Android OS. Past versions of the Android handheld OS could connect to Microsoft Exchange Servers for access to corporate e-mail, calendars, contacts and more, but only if those Exchange Servers did not have a device-encryption IT policy enabled. (Microsoft's brand new Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" OS does not support on-device encryption, and as such, I recently dubbed it unsuitable for business use.)

Android Ice Cream Sandwich device encryption means any corporate data stored on users' devices is "scrambled" to protect the info if the handheld is lost or stolen.

Google's latest tablet OS, Android 3.0 "Honeycomb," already supports on-device encryption, according to Morrill.

2) Voice Typing Enhancements in Android 4.0

Android's talk-to-talk engine got a lot "smarter" with Ice Cream Sandwich, according to Google. Text should instantly appear on screen as you speak. You simply touch the microphone on your Android 4.0 device's keyboard and use your voice to instantly type your emails, SMS, or anywhere you want to enter text.

These enhancements should make the feature a much more viable option for business users.

3) Improved Copy and Paste in Android 4.0

The copy and paste function in Android Ice Cream Sandwich also got an upgrade, according to TechCrunch. Selecting, copying and replacing content should be significantly easier. And users can now move around full blocks of text. Enterprise users who send lots of e-mail and other messages are sure to appreciate this enhancement.

4) New Calendar Features in Android 4.0

The Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS has a revamped calendar UI that makes navigating calendar pages easier and more intuitive. And a new pinch-to-zoom feature makes precise zooming in on calendar items much simpler.

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