Ice Cream Sandwich: Hidden features include disabling bloatware, hardware acceleration

By Posted 20 Oct 2011, 06:54

If you consider yourself to be a die-hard Android supporter, we’re guessing that the majority of you tuned in to see Google unveil the new Galaxy Nexus smartphone and also the brand new Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 operating system.

What you may have missed though, is the fact that Ice Cream Sandwich also has some very cool new features which Google didn’t unveil at the event in Hong Kong – we’re guessing that time could have been an issue here since they wrapped everything up in an hour!

A lot of these new unannounced features in Ice Cream Sandwich have been detailed by one of Google’s Engineers that has worked on developing ICS. Dan Morill has posted some very useful information over on his Google+ profile and revealed the following new additions to Ice Cream Sandwich:

1. Updated Settings
Morill says: We’ve seriously revamped the Settings screen organization. Items are arranged much better now, and it’s easier and usually fewer actions to find what you are looking for.

2. Disabling Apps
ICS adds the ability to disable an app outright. Don’t like an app that came preinstalled? Disable it! Its resources never run and its launcher icon is gone until you re-enable it. (This doesn’t free up any space — it can’t, since pre-installed apps are included in the read-only system storage. But it does put them “out of sight, out of mind.”)

3. Camera Controls
The camera controls have been redesigned and are easier to find and mess around with.

4. Improved Download Manager
It looks better and is easier to find and use, and to see and clear any downloads you might have.

5. Support for Encryption for Phones
Honeycomb added full-device encryption, but ICS brings it to phones.

6. Audio Effects
There’s a new audio effects API.

The biggest reveal there without question, is the fact that Ice Cream Sandwich will now allow users to disable apps if they no longer have use for them, or just don’t want to see them anymore. In another words – you’ll finally be able to disable bloatware! On the Galaxy Nexus or Nexus S (when it gets ICS), this feature won’t really be needed since the handset will come without bloatware, but for devices like the Motorola RAZR which defintely will come with a lot of Verizon’s pre-installed apps – this feature is going to come in very handy indeed.

We just hope that Verizon does not disable this on their side as that would be very harsh if they disabled one of the big features for consumers at the expense of further advertising.

That’s not all though, as it looks confirmed that Ice Cream Sandwich will also introduce hardware acceleration to Android as well! Information posted over at Phandroid explains this in more detail, but basically it will allow animations and other GPU-based applications to run a lot more smoother on your device. Try it out now on the Android 4.0 SDK and see for yourself!

We knew Ice Cream Sandwich was going to be the best version of Android yet by far, but it seems to be getting better each day as we find out more information on it. How important do you value features like enabling hardware acceleration and disabling pre-installed applications?