More and more hot new phones are starting to show up on all of the major carriers running the latest version of Android, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with some tasty tablets being released, too. While the new iPad is undoubtedly a great piece of technology, Google offers some features that can be hard to pass up. The Apple design is nice and simple but rigid — there’s not much you can change. Google, on the other hand, gives you the power to really make your Android phone or tablet your own.
1. Take Tour Internet With You
Signing in on either browser on your phone or tablet will sync up your bookmarks, search history and even your usernames and passwords. You’ll feel right at home with everything you just had on your desktop. The mobile browsers even let you view the tabs you have open on your computer. If you start reading an article and have to step away from your machine, you can pick up right where you left off, without having to add it to any special reading list.
2. Just Plug and Play
It’s easy to get files on and off an Android device. You don’t need any special software; just plug in to a computer, and you’re good to go. You can easily grab all of your pictures and videos or even back up your apps. Add videos easily without converting them to a special format — just copy them on and play.
3. Skip the Security Passwords
Why remember another password or special gesture when you can have your phone remember and recognize you instead? With Face Unlock, your Android Ice Cream Sandwich device’s front-facing camera will recognize you and unlock itself. Machines are supposed to make our lives easier, so shouldn’t we let them do the work for us?
4. Customize to Your Heart’s Content
With Android, you can add widgets to your home screen allowing you to control your music and check your email, calendar or the weather at a glance. Using Ice Cream Sandwich, as with Android 3.0 Honeycomb, you can resize those widgets, so you can decide whether you want to see more information or to save space.
Your home screen is easy to customize — no need to keep each and every app you’ve downloaded on it. Keep them nice and tidy in the app drawer, or arrange them in folders. If you want to, you can replace the entire home screen by using a new launcher. Even your lock screen gives you options — you can check all of your notifications without unlocking your device.
5. Say What You Want With Just a Swipe
Typing on the go can be much easier with customized keyboards. When you’re standing in line and holding your phone in one hand, SwiftKey X Keyboard (download Swiftkey X Keyboard) guesses what you’re trying to type and suggests the next word for you. With Swype, you don’t even have to type — just slide from one letter to the next. There are plenty of other keyboards, so you can find the one that’s just right for you. And it’s not all fancy keyboard tricks, either. If you prefer arrow keys or easier access to punctuation, you can find a keyboard that does that.
6. Navigate the Streets With Ease
The Google Maps app for Android includes Navigation — voice-guided, real-time, turn-by-turn directions based on your current location. With the Google Maps app on your Android device, you no longer need a separate GPS unit for your car — a potential savings of up to hundreds of dollars. A few taps, and your phone will lead you right where you need to go.
7. Tap to Share Information With NFC
With NFC, a chip that lets you send information with a tap, you can share contacts, videos, or web pages between phones via a feature called Android Beam. If you sign up for Google Wallet, you can even leave your credit cards behind and pay for groceries with a swipe of your phone. While it’s not available everywhere yet, NFC is primed to be one of the next big things.
From the way your phone looks to the way your phone looks at you, Android offers a wealth of options. What’s your favorite Android feature?