10-18-2011 7-28-22 PM
Last Updated: August 20th, 2012

Some of the most impressive features unveiled at tonight's Ice Cream Sandwich Announcement surrounded the home screen and multitasking. This time around, Google has packed an absurd amount of awesomeness into Android, and while the home screen is just the beginning, there's a lot going on that's worth discussing.

First up, we have resizable widgets - a feature many users adore from Honeycomb. Finally, users can resize widgets using Android's default launcher, making the possibilities for well-designed home screens endless.

10-18-2011 7-28-22 PM

Next we've got folders, a feature many users have been asking for since before Gingerbread. Users can now make custom folders of apps or contact shortcuts, and even re-order the items within each folder. Further still, users can drop folders right into the dock tray. Users can also drop single apps into the dock tray, bringing a nice level of customization to the dock which we haven't seen before.

10-18-2011 9-31-48 PM 10-18-2011 9-32-12 PM 10-18-2011 9-32-31 PM

Multitasking has also received a major overhaul in Ice Cream Sandwich, bringing the dedicated multitask button you know and love from Honeycomb to your phone's display. Besides showing the lovely array of recent app thumbnails that we're used to in Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich allows users to eliminate apps from the lineup with a simple swipe motion, which is certainly an impressive implementation of task management. It's worth mentioning that this swipe-to-clear functionality is also present in the notification tray.

10-18-2011 9-35-02 PM 10-18-2011 9-35-33 PM

These features not only bring sophistication and a pleasing aesthetic to Ice Cream Sandwich, but "super practical" functionality as well. On top of all the other features we saw tonight, Ice Cream Sandwich is looking positively amazing, and I, for one, can't wait for its official release.

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.

  • drodzand

    "Next we've got folders, a feature many users have been asking for since before Gingerbread. "

    Folders have been available since forever in Android. This is just a new way of creating folders (not really new since iOS did it first) and now you can also put folders in the dock which you couldn't do before.

    • Blake

      iOS let you drop icons on top other icons to instantly make a folder?

      • jturnbow

        Yes...for some time now

        • Blake

          Here's me not caring...pretty sure we had a pull down notification bar since...3 years ago....

          people borrow.

      • drodzand

        yeah, people borrow. I have no problem with that. In fact I like that.

        I do have problem with an Android blog saying that folders are new and that "everyone" has been asking for folders in Android.

  • DanDaman

    I'm guessing the swipe gesture for dismissing notifications came from the collaboration between google and the cyanogen team. GOOD WORK!

  • betty

    who gives a shit about ios

  • carnegie0107

    Yes, folders were present in Android 1.0, before Android even had an on-screen keyboard or video playback. When 1.5 'Cupcake' was released, it included an awesome update: 'live' folders, the ability for developers to include in their apps folders that can be added to the homescreen that will auto-populate with content of a certain kind. An early example was a live folder full of facebook contacts. This feature technically still exists in Gingerbread, though to my knowledge only one developer has made a live folder app since then, and people still wish Android supported folders, because people don't know how to use them. My point is, I'm glad to see GOOG easing the learning curve for Android.

  • Artur

    Hey, what about folders in app drawer?? This is what everyone asked for I suppose. Why not making it GO Launcher way?

  • Dewind

    A correction: swiping app thumbnails away doesn't shut them down, it merely removes them from the "recently used" list, and as such it's totally different from a task manager. Not sure what you meant by saying "task management" in the OP though. As for sources, it's been stated multiple times by Engadget and TIMN.

    • Simon Belmont

      I am glad that someone else noticed this besides me. Swiping the app out of the task switcher does not constitute "managing" the app or closing it in any shape or form.

      It merely reduces clutter in the task switcher. Android still keeps it in memory until needed or until it gets bumped out to free up RAM for another app or process.

    • Chefgon

      It doesn't necessarily kill the process, but it definitely does more than just removing the app from the recently used list. When you swipe an app away from that list you're deleting its state. Normally when you leave an app and then come back to it later, it'll pick up right where you left off. If you swipe it away from the app switcher then it'll forget where you left off and start you off fresh on the first screen when you return to it. You're not "task managing" in the traditional sense because you're not dealing with system resources, but for all practical purposes you are closing those apps when you swipe them away, which is all that most users will ever care about.

  • Alexey

    Dudes, seriously: That was just a marketing line. Just like Steve presenting multitask as a brand new cool feature when it should be primary.

  • Blaw

    Now we just need a Verizon announcement and pre-order date and we're all set for a taste of ICS !

  • D.J.

    About the multitasking and ability to swipe apps away in the list, does that actually close apps or does it just remove them from the list?

    I seem to remember seeing somewhere that it does close some main processes or clears some stuff from memory but doesn't fully close the app. Is that the case?

    If not, I really want it to be. Everyone says Android intelligently manages tasks and frees up memory and CPU cycles when not needed but in practice I just haven't seen it. There have been many times where phones start lagging and running low on memory and the only thing that fixes it is Force Closing some app.