With the recent release of Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), many have wondered what the key differences are between it and its predecessor, Android Gingerbread (2.3). Considering that Android Gingerbread is still being deployed on newly-released phones, many have come to the conclusion that there must not be much difference between the two versions. Nothing could be further from the truth; Android 4.0 has deployed an array of new features and upgrades to make the latest series of premium smartphones as functional as possible while Android 2.3 is still being used on new releases due to those phones having less memory and lacking some of the newest features available. The following will compare and review these differences to inform you on whether or not you can benefit from the latest Android version. Interface
At first glance, the change in the interface is noticeable to the user. You will never have to struggle to locate your messages and favorite applications. Ice Cream Sandwich has reinvigorated the home screen by placing many of the most common icons at the bottom of the screen while “embedding” the Google search function located at the top of the screen, giving it a transparent look as opposed to the white block-style look in Gingerbread. The animations have also been revised to work more flawlessly with 720p HD smartphones, leading to sharper visuals and smoother movements/animations. Google has created a new font, Roboto, for use with Ice Cream Sandwich and is optimally designed for reading e-mails, browsing and any other text-related functions on a high-definition smartphone. Data
Due to the ever-increasing prices of data plans offered by wireless providers, Google has added a new and useful feature known as Data Usage controls. These options provide the user with the ability to not only monitor his or her current or monthly data usage, but also gives the ability to restrict data usage on certain applications and can even limit the amount used in a month. With a feature like this, you will never have to worry about going over your usage again. Photo and Video
There are a couple of new and refined features to Android 4.0 in the visual department. The first feature is the Live Effects option, which gives you the ability to capture photos of your friends and family and insert them into wild and interesting backgrounds: imagine taking a photo of somebody on the moon or underwater. Another add-on is the Silly Faces feature, which gives you the option of altering the scales of photos (big/small eyes, nose, mouth, etc) and also can be done during video chatting. Finally, Google has implemented a face recognition system to allow access to the phone without the need for locks and passwords. It identifies your face and grants immediate access. SocNet/Sharing
Compared to Android 4.0, Gingerbread's lack of social interaction was quite bland. The new features in Ice Cream Sandwich completely renovate your contact list (reminiscent to Windows Phone layout). Included are large profile pictures, status updates from social networks and all the traditional information that is stored in Gingerbread contacts. There is also the new ability to use Android Beam (available on select phones) to transfer files and photos from one phone to another; simply tap the two compatible phones together and you can now share files back and forth. Speed
According to multiple benchmark tests ran on the two operating systems, Android Ice Cream Sandwich averages anywhere from 75-250% faster than Android Gingerbread (variance in speed depends on specific task). There are also increases in functional speed, such as the addition of AutoComplete and integrated options and menus. Conclusion
While Android Ice Cream Sandwich will not be released for every Android phone out there, if you are considering upgrading your eligible phone, it is worth it. Much as Android 2.3 was a step-up over previous versions of Android, Android 4.0 does the same and then some for the Android line.