Google Announces Android 4.1; Code Name Jelly Bean

| June 27, 2012 | Reply

For a long time most tech sites that rumored Jelly Bean called it Android 5.0. Google is considering this a minor update of sorts by slapping the 4.1 on the build, but it seems to live up to much higher standards over 4.0 and it’s buggy beginnings. Let’s look at some of the upgrades available in 4.1.

First is what they called “project butter” which is an update to much of the base code for Android that is supposed to make it “buttery smooth”. What this did in the end was bring a 60 frame per second across the entire platform. Stop me if you have heard this before……This should help put an end to the dreaded lag on Android phones.

Next is an update to the general home screen UI. Now when you move a widget to a new screen with apps present the UI will adjust itself to accommodate by moving the apps and sizing the widgets accordingly. You can also remove any app or widget with a simple swipe up. The notification bar has also been improved. With missed calls you can call the person back with one tap from the notification instead of being forced into the dialer as you were before. Notifications can also be dragged down to reveal more information on things like a Facebook update or an email.

There is an update to the keyboard as well. If you have used swiftkey this will be familiar to you. The keyboard will now attempt to use predictive words to complete your sentences. This is different in finishing a word for you as it will try to add the next word or words that the device thinks you want to add. In addition the voice dictation has been improved greatly. In the past, you needed a data connection for talk to type and if you had a poor data connection it would be very slow to dictate. Google has managed to shrink the data small enough that this feature will work with no reliability on a network connection.

Search integration and Google Now are updated and added to give you a more intuitive experience and a voice like assistant(read:siri) to accomplish many things. Google adds these things called cards to search. More or less if you ask it what the weather is, a card will pop up with a forecast and will talk back to you  with the results. If you ask search about a topic a card will pop up with information and photos of the topic. If you ask about a location or place ot eat a card pops up with contact info, ability to get directions and reviews. More or less if you take Siri, add a windows 8 UI and a very pretty interface you get the new Google search. Time will tell to see how it compares to the Apple counterpart. No word on if it can set your alarm for you yet. Google Now is meant to help you make life smarter and simpler. It will know your daily commute and offer a faster way to get places. It can update you on when you should leave to make an appointment you have in your calendar and how to get there. Now can even update you on your favorite sports teams.

The camera app has another major update. In 4.0, Google added super fast launching and photo taking abilities. Now the gallery has been integrated into the camera app itself and you can simply swipe from the live view screen to the photos without pressing any buttons or heading into the gallery. It’s an interface that looks pretty great and you need to see it to appreciate it.

Android Beam has been updated with more tap to pair abilities for Bluetooth devices like speakers. Google needs to do something with NFC because Wallet sure isn’t taking off as they had hoped.

Android 4.1 should be available for Nexus devices starting in mid July and other devices as manufacturers get the updates out to them. The api is already available so you can start to look for some of these features to be baked into custom roms quickly.

Image via the Verge

Category: Tech News

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