Galaxy Nexus: How to prevent newly-installed apps from creating shortcuts on your home screen

If you’re like me and have recently switched from an Android phone running Froyo (Android 2.2) or Gingerbread (Android 2.3) to the brand-new Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, you may have been surprised to find that apps installed from the Android Market automatically have shortcuts placed on the home screen. I’m sure this feature is convenient for most people, but I prefer to include only essential apps on my home screen and relegate the rest to my app drawer.

Thinking the automatic shortcut placement was controlled by the Galaxy Nexus/Ice Cream Sandwich home screen, I searched in vain to find a way to disable the feature. As it turns out, it’s actually a setting in the Android Market and is quite easy to disable.

How to disable automatic home screen app shortcuts

Step 1. Open the Android Market.

Step 2. Press the new Menu button in the top right. (Yes, it’s three vertical dots and is no longer included in the standard Android buttons bar – I’ll be covering topic in the near future I’m sure.) Select Settings.

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Step 3. Uncheck Auto-add shortcuts.

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That’s it! Your home screen will now be untouched by new applications.

Have any tips about Ice Cream Sandwich or Galaxy Nexus? Share it with us in the comments below.

What’s coming in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Now that the iPhone 4S and iOS 5 have had their chance to bathe in the limelight, the focus can turn to Google’s latest Android release: Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS).

A quick assessment would hail ICS as the answer to Android’s nagging issue of fragmentation. With different versions of the OS scattered all over their various devices, developing for the platform has been notoriously difficult. This is especially problematic when you factor in the fact that Android tablets all run Honeycomb, which was never made to run on a smartphone and requires completely different apps.

Google plans to repair their broken platform by introducing ICS, a version of Android that can run on smartphones and tablets. This means that developers who have typically stuck with iOS because of its universal nature that allows for a single app to be developed for both the iPad and iPhone will finally see Android as a similar opportunity to bring in revenue.

Of course, ICS will affect end-users as well by providing a unified Android experience and therefore more apps. Plus, it’s got some exciting, new features that are definitely worth talking about.

A Brand New Look

Android Home Screen with resizeable widgets in ICSColors have changed, with a bright blue replacing the iconic green that has been a part of Android since the beginning. A new font called Roboto has also been added, which is a clean and easy-to-read font designed for pixel dense screens.

Widgets are now resizable and able to grow larger or smaller in order to make room on your home screen and displaying more or less information based on your preference.

Ice Cream Sandwich moves differently too, with the app drawer scrolling horizontally rather than vertically. Speaking of apps, you now have four customizable spots to place shortcuts on your home screen. Hardware buttons are out – they have been replaced with software buttons for Back, Home, and Recent Apps (which will help make multitasking more useful and accessible).

New Applications and Capabilities

Ice Cream Sandwich's People appYou can now take screenshots within Android and it is awesome.

Android users will also be treated to a web experience that closely matches that of their desktop with bookmarks syncing automatically with Chrome. For the first time, users can choose to view desktop versions of websites rather than mobile versions. I’m unsure how well they will run, but it’s always preferred to have the choice. And we’ve got offline reading a la Instapaper, which allows you to save longer articles when you are online so that you can read them when you’re without a connection.

Borrowing ideas from Windows Phone 7, Android phones now feature a People app that includes a larger profile photo, as well as phone numbers, email addresses and social media integration to display status updates. There are also controls for choosing which contacts to display in regards to social networking, as we all know that your entire Facebook friend list is not welcome on your smartphone. Additionally, no matter where you are in the phone, a quick tap on a profile photo brings up quick access to phone numbers, text messaging and more.

The Calendar app has undergone a mini-makeover and now features a unified mode that can display events and tasks from different sources all in one place (at the user’s discretion). It also features color-coded calendars (personal, work, school) and limited gesture-based functionality.

The built-in camera wasn’t left off the list either. It offers tap-to-focus (tap anywhere on the screen to focus the image at that distance), improved facial recognition (locates faces and auto-focuses), and zero shutter lag. It’s got a panoramic mode that assembles a long-range of continuous imagery into a single photo. And the Gallery app has some added (and much appreciated) photo editing tools.

Improved Multitasking, Lockscreen, and Notifications

Android Lockscreen Notifications in ICSOn the subject of multitasking, a press of the Recent Apps button brings up a list of thumbnails representing each app you have open and allowing you switch between them smoothly. Side-swiping any app will close it.

Notifications have undergone an overhaul as well. You are now able to swipe individual notifications off of the menu, which vastly improves on the “Clear All” button that is currently used. And to top it all off, all of the notification actions are available on the lockscreen.

Oh, and you may have heard about this already, but your phone is now unlockable using your no doubt adorable mug. Just look into the front-facing camera on your smartphone and access is granted. Unfortunately, this feature didn’t get a great demo as it failed to work during the presentation. I hope that they iron out the wrinkles before release day. And as an added bonus, they’ve finally integrated camera access from the lockscreen without the need for an app.

Gives Control to the User

Android Beam in Ice Cream SandwichAfter users expressed nothing but frustration since the beginning of smartphones, Android is the first to allow you to uninstall the apps that ship with your phone (crappy bloatware has not been confirmed). But what this means is that if you prefer the Dolphin browser to Android’s stock browser, you can now choose to delete the latter and keep only the former. Not only does it clean up your app screen, it also puts control over your device’s resources back in your hands.

Data usage is now trackable. In the Settings apps, you can now view colorful and detailed charts of your data usage for that month both for data usage, as well as Wi-Fi. Furthermore, you can set alarms to warn you before you go over your limit.

Android Beam is new as well, which is a stock version of the information-sharing app, Bump. If you and a friend both have NFC-enabled phones, you can tap your phones together and share almost anything. This can be music, apps, contacts, videos, etc. It’s cooler than you think. Now your information lies squarely in your hands.

Google offers an even more in-depth look at all the features over at the developer blog.

Is This Ice Cream Sandwich on the New Nexus?

With the mystery of the iPhone 5 solved, the attention of the internet geekdom has turned to the next, newest thing: Android. Specifically its newest operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), and Google’s next flagship device, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (also known as Nexus Prime, or whatever). And we’ve uncovered the motherload.

A Romanian website (it was Samsung Romania that announced the name “Nexus Prime” back in June) has what looks to be the next Nexus device running an early version of Ice Cream Sandwich. Of course, there is no way of knowing whether this is the real thing or a clever fake, but that makes it all the more fun to discuss in the comments.

If it is real though, it looks like we can expect a change to the cut-and-dry Android form factor. The search button is missing from the bottom row of soft-touch buttons, seemingly replaced by a constant search bar at the top of the screen, which seems like more of a problem. Won’t a new button configuration make updating older devices even harder?

The screen looks larger than that of the Nexus S, not surprising when you consider how the Galaxy line up just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Also, as expected, the OS is taking a lot of design aspects from Honeycomb (the tablet version of Android), rather than sticking close to Gingerbread. This, in my humble opinion, is a relief. Gingerbread isn’t the prettiest of interfaces.

Unfortunately, the truth about this mess may be further away than we originally thought. Samsung has just announced that they no longer plan to unveil the phone with Google at next week’s CTIA:

Samsung and Google decide to postpone the new product announcement at CTIA Fall. We agree that it is just not the right time to announce a new product. New date and venue will be shortly announced.

It’s anybody’s guess why the two companies decided to postpone the reveal, but it could literally be anything. Last minute kinks to work out, patent lawsuits, fear of being buried under the iPhone hype, or perhaps even to respect Steve Jobs’ passing.

Whatever the reason, Eric Schmidt has promised that we will all see Ice Cream Sandwich by the end of November. So just nine, long, excruciating weeks to go then.

But what do you think? Is this about what you expected? Or did you want something bigger and better?