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Google tops Ice Cream Sandwich with version 4.0.3

Rolling out to smartphones and tablets in the next few weeks, ICS 4.0.3 will offers various improvements and bug fixes. Google touts it as the new base version for Android.

Google is serving up Ice Cream Sandwich with a new base version that promises several improvements and bug fixes for the Android operating system.

Detailed in Friday's Android Developers blog, ICS 4.0.3 is expected to roll out to production phones and tablets in the "weeks ahead," according to Google.

As such, the company is advising developers to test their mobile apps with the new flavor. Though it didn't get into specifics, Google is promising incremental improvements in graphics, database, spell-checking, and Bluetooth, among other items.

Developers can also tap into other features with the new 4.0.3 APIs (application program interfaces).

One API lets developers of calendar apps add color and attendee details to events so that people can more easily track them.

Another API allows apps that work with the camera to manage video stabilization and use QVGA (quarter video graphics array) profiles if necessary.

Apps that use status updates and check-ins will be able to sync that information with a person's contacts to show what those contacts are doing or saying. Finally, ICS 4.0.3 will improve access for screen readers and provide new status and error messages for text-to-speech engines.

More information is available at API Overview on the Android Developers page.

One quick developer who installed 4.0.3 has faced some problems, notes Engadget. The update apparently wreaked havoc with his Motorola Xoom tablet's GPS, camera, video playback, and a couple of other features. So other enterprising upgraders may want to proceed with caution for now.