Google put a lot of effort into its camera app for the ICS update, refining it with what seems like a quicker shutter, faster focus and plenty of new features and controls. This is definitely for the best, considering the next generation of tablet will sport 8-megapixel-and-up rear shooters.
The standout is definitely the videocamera effects for both times lapse recording as well as shrinking and enlarging heads, mouths, eyes and noses, which aren’t practical, but definitely are fun. Google added a time lapse feature as well. Here’s an example of both the video effect and time lapse:
There are also backdrops for space, sunset, as well as “disco,” and users can apply their own photos as a background too. Google gets bonus points for including the filters and backdrops in Google Talk video chat.
The picture editing suite has also seen some improvements for touching up photos, including red eye removal and other enhancements, including color and effects filters, which were liberally applied to this cubical panorama (panorama is a new feature for smartphone users, but was available on Honeycomb tablets).
The improved editing options won’t replace Photoshop, but it’s good for some quick tweaking before posting the pics to Facebook, which can also now be done in photo.
For the Enterprise
Google is keenly aware of the consumerization and BYOD trend in business, and it wants users choosing Android smartphones and tablets over the Apple and RIM alternatives. As such, ICS has a handful of enterprise goodies to make it more appealing to business users. USB hosting is still available, meaning ICS tablets support USB keyboards, trackpads, mice and gamepads. There are also security and back-end features for IT departments. Read more about the new Android enterprise features in Ice Cream Sandwich from TabletPCReview sister site, SearchConsumerization.
At the ICS launch, Google touted the sorely-needed ability to snap screenshots (sorely-needed for reviewers anyway) by simultaneously pressing the power and volume buttons. Unfortunately, that feature does not seem to work on the Wi-Fi Xoom. Also, the face unlock security feature is missing on the Xoom.
The Motorola Xoom does not have a near field communciations (NFC) chip, so Android Beam is not available. Future NFC-toting tablets will be able to share contacts and other data with a single tap via Android Beam. Google Wallet, which enables one-tap payments at supported retailers through NFC, is also not available.
Google Ice Cream Sandwich is such a major update for smartphones in terms of style and features that for users, it’s akin to getting a new device, as documented in the Brighthand Android 4.0 review. For tablets, the update isn’t that much of a stylistic leap. However, the new features and performance boosts are very welcome additions, and provide Android tablets with new potential for market success.
It’s no secret that Honeycomb was produced and shipped hastily in order to get a foothold in the emerging tablet market – Google execs have admitted as much. It seems ICS is what Honeycomb should have been, provided Google developers had the time.
There is still plenty of room for improvement, certainly in the Android tablet app area where Google’s current stretch/zoom-to-fill solution is woefully inadequate. But on the whole, ICS is a major step in the right direction for Google tablets and we look forward to seeing what new features Google rolls out in subsequent updates.