Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was unveiled at last week’s Google I/O Conference in San Francisco, with Google planning to release the source code in mid-July when over-the-air updates start shipping in mid-July. It’s only 6 months since the Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich OS was first unveiled on the Asus Transformer Prime, and the rapid pace of updates has left some manufacturers and carriers flailing, with many legacy devices still waiting for promised Android ICS updates. In total less than 10% of android devices are running Ice Cream Sandwich, with the last smartphone/tablet OS Android 2.3 Gingerbread far and away the world’s most popular Android OS.
Of the various tweaks and tricks introduced with the latest Android update, Project Butter is the headline-grabber, an close-to-the-metal nuts-and-bolts overhaul of the Android engine which aims to improve responsiveness and performance in general. Android Jelly Bean is capable of churning out 60 frames per second, meaning more fluid and snappy animations, and the CPU should now respond ‘instanteaneously’ to screen input. The Home Screen now features other welcome functionality, such as dynamic resizing of widgets.
My personal favorite as the world’s clumsiest typits is the Offline Voice Input feature, enabling users to bellow dictation into their device with a simple tap of the microphone, even when their device is in airplane mode. The camera app has been revamped, so that the most-recently taken snap can be inspected by swiping leftwards mid-shoot. When swiping through photos, users can now ‘pinch out’ so that all images are presented in a filmstrip arrangement, and swiping an image offscreen deletes it. So be careful. Not that accidentally-deleted snaps can’t be restored via the Undo button.
Images or videos can now be uploaded using Google Beam, and Bluetooth tethering is now NFC-enabled. Predictive text and recommendations now feature above the on-screen keyboard, which you’ll either love or hate, and Voice Search can respond by speaking answers to questions.
The notification set-up has been unified with an interactive inbox for all your nudges, pokes, tweets, Facebook updates and everything else. Messages can be made to automatically inflate and then shrink back down to size when they arrive, and users can set up prepared responses.
Google Now is a new inclusion, collating search history, location, calendar events and various other snippets of personal data to serve up information tailored to your needs. Quite a comprehensive update, all in all. Cue blog post after blog post promising Jelly Bean updates (or not) for all those devices now shipping…
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