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Oct
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Adding to the heap of shiny new features brought to us in Ice Cream Sandwich, we've got a new lock screen, and of course the fabled virtual button bar.

The redesigned lock screen allows for simple unlocking, or unlocking to the camera app instantly (which, by the way, has zero shutter lag). That's not all it has to offer, though. Users can now swipe down the notification bar to get a peek at what's happening without unlocking their phone. Additionally, the time indicator in the upper right corner is now gone, eliminating the redundancy found in previous iterations of Android.

10-18-2011 7-26-11 PM

Next up is the virtual button bar, a feature that has been rumored since the very dawn of Ice Cream Sandwich rumors. Frankly, it looks better than I expected. We've got the standard Back, Home, and Multitask keys available at all times.

10-18-2011 7-28-22 PM

There is some concern about the lack of a search button, but from the looks of it, the Google search bar at the top of the home screen will be a steady fixture. The great thing about the virtual button bar is that it opens up real estate on the face of the device, allowing for a larger display.

Along with the revamped dock tray, these elements enhance Android's UI beyond previous standards, and give us a few more beautiful features to look forward to in Ice Cream Sandwich.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Sandeep

    How this thing looks on a lower resolution android?Will this android 4.0 support lower ones like 240*320??

    • me

      4.0 will but no new devices will launch with such low reslution so you will be able to use your hardware buttons and not have to worry about the lost screen real estate

  • Sandeep

    Thanks for your response..
    This version looks promising..i have to wait for cyanogen developers to release 4.0..

  • Erik

    As someone who constantly uses the search button on my Android phone, I find the lack of a search button on the Nexus a little disappointing. Otherwise it looks pretty great.

    • Tom

      I would guess that the buttons being "software" instead of hardware means there will be many options in regards to button layouts via hacks / addons? I sure hope so

  • Rob

    I hope that the virtual button bar is optional, I don't want the duplication on phones which already have those keys on the front.

  • eleazar

    Ugh, I am so disappointed that the search button has been removed. They could have easily made it optional (for true ICS devices). I use that button all of the time as soon as I open certain apps (ie. market)

    • http://profiles.google.com/ISantop Ian

      But most of those apps already have a search button in the app, and the ones that don't will for ICS.

    • John

      I agree. The search button was my primary interface to my phone and it was the strength of Android. This is a step backwards in terms of usability, as I will have to visually search through each screen to find out if I can search and what my options are. These engineers may be tapping themselves on the should for context-specific buttons but it just makes the phone complicated. Maybe Steve Ballmer was right when he said Android is for engineers. Kind of strange how a search company like Google neglects its strengths.

  • George

    Wait, where's the menu key? So will this mean older apps will have issues?
    http://yfrog.com/j2skwp

    • Josh

      I assume a fourth menu button appears in the navigation bar, similar to how apps that have a menu will spawn a dynamic menu button in Honeycomb.

    • John

      I agree, that is stupid to replace the search and menu buttons with a "recent apps" button. I already had the "recent apps" functionality by long-pressing the home button. The menu button was also useful for using apps like Swype. Crappy UI decisions. The apps look okay, but I'm not happy with the UI.

      • Phil Oakley

        But in some apps I don't need a menu button.

        They're also taking away many long press features a la long pressing home for recent apps. I never used that anyway, couldn't care less it's gone.

  • Felix Maynard

    I am more worried about the lack of menu button