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Upgrading Your Galaxy Tab to Android 4, aka Ice Cream Sandwich

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Android 4, better known as Ice Cream Sandwich, is now available for Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 users. Eric Butow shows you how to upgrade your Tab 10.1 to the new operating system and get a quick tour of its features.

Some smartphones and tablets that run the Android operating system are designed to run one specific version of the Android OS. For example, the original Galaxy Tab 7.0 can only run Android 2.2, also called Froyo. Other devices can be upgraded to newer versions of Android, and that includes any Galaxy Tab that runs Android 3, or Honeycomb.

In 2011, Google introduced version 4 of Android. In keeping with the tradition of giving Android releases dessert names, Android 4 was nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich.

Some of the improvements in Ice Cream Sandwich come under the hood because Honeycomb was designed as the operating system for tablets, and Android 2 versions (Γ‰clair, Froyo, and Gingerbread) was the standard version for smartphones. Ice Cream Sandwich standardizes one Android platform for both smartphones and tablets, but the differences don't end there. Google tweaked the interface for higher-resolution screens, improved core functionality such as voice input, and improvements to apps such as the Camera app so you can take better pictures with your Tab.

Earlier this year, Samsung made an upgrade to Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, available to users of any tablet running Honeycomb. That includes the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and in this article I'll tell you about the new and improved features in Ice Cream Sandwich and how to upgrade. For this article, I'll use my Tab 10.1 that I reset to factory specifications.

Tap the clock in the status bar and then tap Settings in the menu. Within the Settings screen, scroll down and tap About device in the menu, and then tap Software update, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Tap Software update to check for Android operating system updates.

After a few seconds, the Tab will ask you to select the country you're in from the Select Country window list. After you scroll through the list (if necessary), tap the country name, and then tap the OK button, you'll see the Samsung Account screen. Review the terms in this screen, tap the I accept all the terms above checkbox, and then tap the Accept button.

In the next step, you will either need to sign in with your Samsung account by tapping the Sign in button or sign up for a Samsung account by tapping the Sign-up button. For this article I'll use my Samsung account and tap the Sign in button.

After you sign in, the About device Software update screen appears, as shown in Figure 2. Tap Update to check for Android updates.

Figure 2 Begin the Android OS update process by tapping Update.

In the Software update window, tap the OK button to check for the software update. After a few seconds, the Software update window appears that asks you to update Android to version 4, as shown in Figure 3. You can check your Wi-Fi settings by tapping Wi-Fi settings. If you would rather put off the update until later but want to be reminded, tap Later and then set the time when you want to be reminded in the Reminder Interval window.

Figure 3 The Software update window gives you more information about the Android 4 update.

Download the update by tapping Download. The Download Update Package window opens so you can see the download progress. If you'd rather hide the window and do something else, tap Hide. You can also cancel the download and the update by tapping Cancel.

After the Tab downloads the software update, a window appears and tells you the update package was received successfully. If you decide at this stage that you want to put off the installation until later, tap Later and then tap the interval time in the Reminder Interval window. Install the update by tapping Install.

The Tab will restart after a few seconds and then Android 4 installs on your system. When the Tab finishes installing Android 4, you'll see the Android 4 lock screen so you can close it by swiping your finger on the screen.

Tap OK in the Software update window to close the window and view the home screen. The screen contains four tiles on the screen that you can use to view the current weather, videos, AP news, and songs. For example, when you tap on the AP newsfeed tile you'll see the latest news stories. Tap the left and right arrow on each side of the story to view the latest headlines (see Figure 4).

Figure 4 The AP Mobile app summary appears in the lower-left tile so you can tap the tile and view the story in the full screen.

Icons appear below the tiles, so you can access various apps such as the Internet icon to view the Web. In the notification bar, tap the up arrow in the center of the bar to the application bar that contains seven apps you may use often and can access quickly:

  • Alarm sets an alarm that will go off at the appointed time.
  • Calculator makes mathematical calculations.
  • A calendar lets you view and make appointments.
  • Email enables you to set up your email account, read, and write email messages.
  • Music Player plays songs and manages your song library.
  • Pen Memo allows you to write memos on your Tab screen using a pen stylus (such as those you can find on the Samsung website).
  • Task Manager enables you to view, switch between, and close open applications.

Figure 5 The application bar appears above the status bar at the bottom of the screen.

Note that the icons can interfere with icons on the home screen, so you may want to tap the name of the app in the bar above the status bar instead. Close the bar and reopen the status bar by tapping the down arrow in the center of the status bar.

Many of the features in Android 4 are similar to Android 3. At the top center of the screen you'll see five dots that represent all five home screens, and the white dot represents the home screen you're currently on. By default, you view the third of the five home screens, and just as with Honeycomb you can swipe between the home screens.

In the upper-left corner of the home screen you can search for items on the Tab and online by tapping the search icon, which looks like a magnifying glass.

In the upper-right corner, you'll see the Apps icon that appears as a square with 16 small squares inside it. Tap the Apps button to view the Apps screen shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6 The Apps screen shows 40 app icons on the first page.

You can view the remaining four apps on the second apps page by swiping from right to left on the screen. At the top of the screen, tap Widgets to view the Widgets section, which contains thumbnail tiles of widgets that are preinstalled on your Tab, such as the AccuWeather widget.

Tap the menu icon at the upper-right corner of the screen to view a menu of options for making changes to your apps or widgets. For example, in the apps menu you can open the Google Play Store by tapping Play Store in the menu (see Figure 7).

Figure 7 The menu for the Apps section

If you want to see if there are any other Android upgrades for your Tab, tap the clock in the status bar. If there is a software update available, then the Notifications area in the menu will tell you. Tap Software Update in the Notifications section to open the Disclaimer screen.

Tap Confirm in the screen to register your device and then Android will check for an update. If there isn't one, then the Software Update window will let you know and you can tap OK in the window to close it.

You can also check for further updates manually by tapping the clock in the status bar and then tapping Settings in the menu. Scroll down the list of settings until you see About device and then tap it.

In the About device area on the right side of the screen, tap Software update. In the Software update section, tap Update, as shown in Figure 8, to check for an update immediately. Note that the Auto update and Push message checkboxes are checked, which means that the Tab will check the Samsung servers automatically for updates and let you know when one is available through a pop-up window on the screen.

Figure 8 As with Honeycomb, you can tap Update in the Software update section to check the Samsung server for any updates.

Ice Cream Sandwich isn't the latest version of Android available. Android 4.1, also called Jelly Bean, was made available in mid-2012. Companies are adopting Jelly Bean slowly, and Samsung has promised to upgrade many of its smartphones and tablets "soon" as of this writing.

You can read a list of Samsung devices the company has promised to upgrade as of September 2012 at http://www.slashgear.com/samsung-details-jelly-bean-upgrade-roadmap-and-its-not-all-good-24248943/. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 isn't on this list (yet), but keep checking back on the Samsung website and technology news sites (such as SlashGear) for the latest Jelly Bean upgrade information.

In the meantime, enjoy playing with Ice Cream Sandwich!

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