A snapshot of Android 4.0's cool new photo sharing features

By JR Raphael (@jr_raphael)  

Google's new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is full of interesting surprises. One thing that caught my eye just recently is how easy ICS makes it for you to share photos from your phone.

When you take a photo with Ice Cream Sandwich, it appears as a small thumbnail at the bottom of the Camera app, like it has in past versions of Android. Tapping on the thumbnail brings up a new enlarged viewing screen that has handy icons for all of your connected social services, ranging from bundled apps like Gmail and Google+ (which, yes, is now included as part of the OS) to third-party programs like Dropbox and Twitter.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Photo Sharing (1)

If you have too many share-ready services to fit in the space, as I already do on the Galaxy Nexus I'm testing, ICS simply makes the list scrollable so you can swipe left or right to see more. Everything's on screen in front of you, though, with no hidden menus or hard-to-find commands.

The feature that really made me smile is in the Gallery app, which you use for browsing through photos and other images on your phone. When you pull up a picture in the Ice Cream Sandwich Gallery app, you see a sharing icon above it that holds a dropdown list of all those share-friendly services. Convenient, sure, but that's to be expected.

The touch I wasn't expecting is an icon that appears next to that main share command. Once you've shared your first photo, that icon automatically becomes a shortcut to the service you used -- which, in my case, was Dropbox. Effectively, Android learns what sharing service you like and gives you a one-touch shortcut to send your photos there in the future.

Better yet, if you touch the icon for a couple of seconds, you can actually customize it to make it a shortcut for any sharing service you want. Not too shabby.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Photo Sharing (2)

I expect to find plenty of other neat little bells and whistles as I explore Ice Cream Sandwich further in the days to come. Be sure to check out my hands-on look at ICS and the Galaxy Nexus for a broader overview of my impressions.

And stay tuned: Much more ICS coverage is on the way soon, including my full ICS and Nexus reviews. We're always talking Android over on Google+ and other social networks, too; if you haven't joined me yet, come say hello.

UPDATE: Android 4.0 and the Galaxy Nexus: My in-depth reviews 

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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