Android 4.1 – what’s new in Jelly Bean?
The latest version of Android has been unveiled as Jelly Bean, but what’s new in the operating system and when are we likely to see it appear?
What is Android Jelly Bean?
Android is Google’s smartphone and tablet operating system and Jelly Bean – or 4.1 – is the latest version to be released.
It will be available on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy Nexus S and Motorola Xoom tablets in mid-July. Other updates will be down to product makers.
5 things we like about Android Jelly Bean
- Project Butter
Designed to improve the experience of using touchscreens, the strangely named Project Butter apparently makes using the screen faster and ‘feel smoother’ – although it will use more processing power so we’re not sure what affect it will have on battery life
Google has updated its notifications system, allowing users to perform quick actions from the notifications screen. These actions include calling someone back after a missed call, or commenting on a social network update.
- Improved Search
Apparently redesigning the whole search experience, Google searches will now present cards with the information you are looking for rather than a page of search results. Improvements have also been made to voice search to understand more natural language – with examples from Google including ‘How tall is the Space Needle?’ and ‘Show me pictures of pygmy marmosets’
- Google Now
A further changes to search include the introduction of Google Now. This uses search history, location history and your events to present you relevant information without you asking for it. This means it can suggest routes to your next event and tell you what time you need to leave, as well as keeping you up-to-date on what’s happening with your favourite sports teams
- Product Development Kit
Google has announced it will be releasing a product development kit to hardware developers. This may not sound all that exciting but we hope that this means manufacturers will be able to release updates for existing devices faster and there won’t be as many frustrated owners waiting for software updates
What else is new?
But that’s not all, Google also made some changes to how the products will be used every day. This includes some changes to homepages that mean widgets will automatically resize to fit on a homepage or move icons around so you won’t have to spend a long time lining everything up.
Better text input has also been introduced with a new predictive text feature and the ability to use voice typing offline – although this will only be available in US English at first.
New accessibility features include braille input and output for blind and partially sighted users, as well as new gesture controls.
Changes have been made to the camera app by increasing the speed you can view pictures you have taken. Users will now be able to swipe to the left to see pictures just taken, as well as being able to zoom out to a stream of recent pictures and delete individual images by swiping them upwards.
NFC – or Near Field Communication – also got some attention with the Android Beam feature now expanded to allow users to share pictures and videos by bumping devices together. Read our what is NFC post for more information about the technology.
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