All the major tablets released in 2012 will either come with Android 4.0 out of the box or should be upgraded to it. Here's how Ice Cream Sandwich will take the fight to iOS.
Codenamed Ice Cream sandwich, the new Android 4.0 OS is a distinct improvement on its predecessor, Android 3.x Honeycomb. These are the main reasons it will make Android tablets more competitive with the iPad this year.
1. Slicker UI
Tablets with Android 4.0 have the best-looking UI of all. Retaining the holographic features of its predecessor, the Android 4.0 interface introduces dozens of subtle improvements to the look and navigation, from better animations to a new higher-resolution font that’s much nicer to read. It makes the iOS 5 UI look dated.
2. Easier switching between applications
It’s now much easier to switch between open apps with the scrolling multi-tasking window manager that pops up from the system bar.
3. Home screen folders and file management
Android 4.0 now lets you group icons into folders (yes iOS 5 does that too) but, like previous Android versions, lets you manage files with Windows Explorer-style managers. There’s also a better gallery app to manage your photos.
4. Expandable widgets
Widgets are little windows onto live, updating information from apps on the device. The iPad has nothing like them, but now you can make widgets larger or smaller to show more info.
5. Better voice to text
OK, it doesn't talk back to you like Siri, but Android 4.0’s voice input engine does a great job of translating your words into text. It understands continuous speech, and afterwards underlines possible dictation errors in gray. Afterwards you can tap the underlined words to quickly replace them from a list of suggestions.
6. Better data sharing between devices
With Wi-Fi direct file sharing (like Apple's AirDrop feature in Mac OS X), Android devices will be able to send files to each other over Wi-Fi, without a router in between. And Android Beam is a NFC peer-to-peer sharing technology for near field communication (NFC) on tablets and phones to securely exchange data such as contacts, web pages, etc. when within 4cm of each other.
7. External peripherals
Android 4.0 introduces the ability for an Ice Cream Sandwich device to be a USB host, so standard keyboards and mice can be plugged in. Previously, USB ports could only be used to plug in storage. Android also has very good support for keyboards and mice in terms of moving around the OS. Bluetooth peripherals are supported.
8. Social integration
Android 4.0 has Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others integrated in the OS and combines them all together into a new "people" app that displays a social feed as well as contacts.