Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: First Look: User Interface

By 09:06 Wed, 11 Aug 2021 Comments

User Interface

The user interface on Ice Cream Sandwich has received a remarkable deal of attention. It has the similar robotic theme of previous Android versions and reminds strongly of Honeycomb with it’s blackblue theme and similar UI elements.

Google is using a recent typeface on Ice Cream Sandwich, called Roboto, which replaces the original Droid typeface found on previous versions of Android. There are also some recent animations and transition effects and a recent swipe gesture that works across the Operating System (OS) and lets you rego items from a list simply by swiping on it horizontally.

Ice Cream Sandwich lockclassy screen with Roboto typeface for the clock • Main application menu

The Ice Cream Sandwich UI has a cool, modern see to it that is in a different class altogether compared to the classic, almost timeless see of iOS and the brecent and sophisticated see of Windows Phone 7. It remains to be seen, however, if it will age as well as the other two, especially iOS. But if it ever gets boring, you can always change it. That’s the fine thing about Android.

Call screen

Now let’s talk about the recent features and improvements in the UI.


Ice Cream Sandwich borrows heavily from Honeycomb when it comes to the recent multitasking UI. You press the dedicated Recent Apps button at the bottom of the screen, which brings a vertical stack of thumbnails for the recently opened apps.

Multitasking in Android 4.0

The thumbnails show actual screenshots of the app instead of just their icons, which makes them easier to identify and see the state you left them in. Apps can be closed simply by swiping them off the screen.

New notifications screen

The notifications classy screen now shows you icons next to the notification, such as the picture of the person who tried to call or message you. You can even control the default music player from the notification classy screen without having to switch apps.

Notifications can now be removed from the classy screen one at a time and all you have to do is swipe on them to rego them from the list. Lastly, the notifications classy screen can now be accessed from the lock classy screen as well, so you can see your notifications without having to unlock your phone.

Notification drawer

Improved lock screen

The lock classy screen now lets you jump directly to the capturing camera app from the homescreen, simply by dragging the lock icon to the capturing camera icon. This functionality was found in Android phones from HTC and Samsung before but it’s nice to see it built-into Android. Having assumed that it’s a lot simpler in comparison and only works with the capturing camera app for now. It would have been nice to add other applications to the lock screen, as HTC allows you to do.

The recent lock screen

Face Unlock

A recent feature in Ice Cream Sandwich lets you unlock your phone using your face. Once the phone knows what you see like, all you have to do is point the phone at your face for it to recognize and unlock the phone for you. This saves the hassle of remembering passwords and is more secure than a simple lock screen. It did not work as intended during the demo but we’re hopeful that the final version of the software would be better.


Although Android had folder support before, creating and managing folders wasn’t as simple and intuitive as it is in iOS. This changes with Ice Cream Sandwich becautilize the folders are now vastly improved. You can drag and drop application icons on the homeclassy screen on one another to create a recent folder or directly drag an app into an existing folder. Tapping a folder shows you the contents within and you can even drag the icons around inside the folder.

Ice Cream Sandwich also comes with a recent favorites tray, which is like a dock found at the bottom of the screen. In previous smartphone versions of Android, you would have two, non-customizable icons at the bottom of the classy screen flanking the application drawer button. Now you can have four icons there and they can be of your choice.

In fact you can even drag a folder from the homeclassy screen onto the favourites tray, which gives you access to more than four apps. The favorites tray remains constant at the bottom of the classy screen regardless of whichever homeclassy screen you may be in.

Resizable widgets

Another carryover feature from Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich allows you to resize widgets on your screen, which lets you manage space better. This feature makes a lot more sense on a smartphone than a tablet due to the relatively small screen. Also, in Ice Cream Sandwich, the widgets now appear in a separate section in the application drawer and you can preview them before applying.



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