Silly name aside, Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), is perhaps the most important Android release to date. With this release, Google has brought its tablet Android fork, 3.x, back into sync with its smartphone trunk, 2.x. In addition, all of ICS will soon, as I understand it, be made open source.
What that means for you is that independent software vendors (ISV)s can stop wasting time in developing two different versions of programs and focus their energies on making the best possible Android applications. Since, at the end of the day, the success of any operating system is all about its applications, this bodes well for Android.
Like Google told its developers, “Android 4.0 is a major platform release that adds a variety of new features for users and app developers. Besides all the new features and APIs [application programming interfaces] discussed below, Android 4.0 is an important platform release because it brings the extensive set of APIs and Holographic themes from Android 3.x to smaller screens. As an app developer, you now have a single platform and unified API framework that enables you to develop and publish your application with a single APK that provides an optimized user experience for handsets, tablets, and more, when running the same version of Android-Android 4.0 (API level 14) or greater.”
Don’t get too excited about Android 4 quite yet though. While Android 4 has lots of good features–the most important of which I’m going to talk about here–it’s also not going to be available for most of you on your existing smartphones and tablets.