Google has unveiled the latest version of Android, introducing facial recognition to unlock the phone, an NFC sharing tool, and a new Samsung handset.
Android 4.0 - codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich - brings together the tablet version of the OS, called Honeycomb, with the smartphone edition, and adds a host of new features.
"Beaming a video with a single tap or unlocking a device with only a smile sounds like science fiction," said head of mobile Andy Rubin in a post on the Google blog. "Now you can actually do these things (and more) with a phone that fits in the palm of your hand."
That first sci-fi feature is Android Beam, which uses near-field communications to share data, videos, and apps when users tap their phones together. The second is Face Unlock, which uses facial recognition to unlock your phone, rather than a passcode.
Other Android additions include software navigation buttons as an option rather than rely on hardware - the Galaxy Nexus has no physical buttons - as well as an improved keyboard and resizable widgets, while notifications are now "more interactive". Another new feature is "voice typing" - essentially a voice input system to send text messages and email.
Google said the browser was faster, has a new tab manager and syncs with the desktop version of Chrome. Unsurprisingly, Ice Cream Sandwich features integration with the Google+ social network, and a reworked contacts system.
Rubin said Google had also created a new font that's "optimised for HD displays".
The Ice Cream Sandwich launch device is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the second time Google has turned to Samsung to launch an OS update, following on from the Nexus S.
The Galaxy Nexus features a 4.65in display with 720p resolution, and runs a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, with connectivity via 4G or HSPA+. It features a "high-end" camera which Google claims has "zero shutter lag".
"This will be our strategic product for year-end holiday season, as [Apple's] iPhone 4S just came into the market," said JK Shin, president and head of Samsung's mobile communications business, according to Reuters.
The Nexus will be available in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia starting in November, Google said.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk