The Google I/O conference has finally led to the unveiling of the next version of Android – version 4.1, AKA Jelly Bean.
As a successor of the mighty impressive Ice Cream Sandwich, it has big boots to fill, but early signs seem to point towards it being an improvement on an already well-made Android 4.0 ICS.
Read on to find out more about what makes Jelly Bean a worthy successor to Ice Cream Sandwich.
The biggest issue that many users (especially those used to Apple products) had with Android was its relative lack of smoothness. The perceived lagginess had more to do with Android being made to power low end devices with little by the way of optimization from their manufacturers, than any fault with Android itself. But there isn’t any doubt that on a head-to-head battle versus iOS, Android does tend to come up short in sheer zippiness. Google’s Project Butter, as the name suggests, has been conceived with a single minded aim of making Android Jelly Bean a blazing fast experience for users.
Google Now is a location based assistant of sorts that, from the looks of it, is very, very smart. As Google describes it: “It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team’s score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically. Cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them.” Early reviews of it so far have been absolutely stellar, and it could be a game changer.
Offline Voice Typing
Android has had a voice typing option in the stock keyboard for quite a while, but an annoying part about it was the need for it to access the internet to actually work. Jelly Bean will be making the entire dictation experience offline, albeit initially for just US English. More languages are expected to be added soon enough.
Fully functional widgets are a USP of the Android platform. One of the biggest criticisms against Apple’s iOS has been its constant shunning of any form of widgetization, while Android lets you merrily add any and every widget under the sun. This comes at the cost of organization and aesthetics though, and Jelly Bean will be changing that. Widget resizing was introduced in ICS, and JB will make widgets auto resize when you move them from homescreen to homescreen.
The pull down Notification tray was a truly brilliant and unique feature introduced by Android, and later aped by the likes of iOS, Symbian Belle, etc. Jelly Bean will be making the tray even more functional now, with expandable notifications. For instance, if you get a new mail, you don’t have to go the whole hog and open the mail client to have a look at what’s in it. Instead, you can simply pinch and expand it for a bigger preview.
All the iterations of Android so far has curiously allowed extremely low resolution contact photos. Now, with Jelly Bean, contact photos will be a far cry from their blurry counterparts in older versions of Androids, thanks to resolutions of up to 720×720 being allowed. The default Android keyboard is said to have been made a lot, lot smarter as well now – bringing it on par with the best in the market, such as SwiftKey X.
App updates have been made a whole lot smarter too. From now on, whenever an app gets updated, you don’t need to download the entire new version of the app again. Jelly Bean will make it possible for you to only download the relevant updated parts of the app, thereby saving a whole lot of data for you.
You can find out more from the official Android Developer page.