What’s new in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean?
Get the lowdown on what to expect from Google’s next Android update coming to a phone and tablet near you.
New apps and plenty of new features will be packed into Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Google introduced us to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at its recent Google I/O 2012 Conference. This next release of Android 4.1 gives out a strong message that this is Google taking Android forward and strengthening the design and direction from what had been a seemingly scatter-gun approach with the old Android 2.x releases.
At its heart the first and most obvious update is something Android are calling Project Butter, which is about making the Android interface as slick and fast as possible.
The effect is tangible with scrolling items around feeling slick and instant. The key is a triple display buffer that makes the most of modern graphics acceleration built into all modern mobile devices.
A similar tweak is to the Android Home Screen, when you move and add widgets the interface is far more fluid in resizing and moving icons intelligently around.
Part of the original Android 4.0 design was to try and keep everything consistent, this has been re-enforced in Jelly Bean, so moving from app to app you’re not having to relearn or guess where or what a menu does. It’s a much welcome design tweak, that’s still not perfect but is very close.
Users of Android 4.1 will be enjoying a couple of new apps. The first and most obvious is that the original Browser is now Google Chrome, which is technically the most popular browser on the planet. This brings cross-platform sync so you can synchronise your bookmarks and tabs across devices for seamless browsing.
Google Now will also be very prominent and is a more personalised Google voice search. Just say Google and you can search away. Just ask Google a question and it’ll produce a list of suitable answers, pictures or whatever you’re after. These can be limited to “stuff” on your device such as music tracks, contacts and navigation. Part of this system is a that it learns organically what’s important to you, so over time will come back with better results.
Partly tied to the interface, but as a feature in itself the old Android keyboard has received a much welcome update. While no one really likes on-screen keyboards, we always tolerated the Android version. This update feels far better to use and seems to draw from the best of the third-party alternatives such as SwiftKey.
The new Notification system is frankly brilliant. Besides cramming way more information into the same space it’s now intelligent. So you can delay meetings, be told when you need to leave for an appointment based on your current locality and how long it will take you to get to the new meeting. It can auto-message people with a simple tap and getting more details by pinch-zooming a notification is great.
Finally, the camera and gallery apps now feel as one, rather than two separate apps that happen to deal with photos. So it’s easy to swipe between the live camera app and view what’s just been taken in the gallery. While overall, the camera apps feel far more responsive than ever before.
The best news is that existing Android 4.0 will be capable of being upgraded to Android 4.1 and while there are no set dates most manufacturers are promising to roll-out upgrades for Jelly Bean. But as ICS upgrades are still ongoing who knows when this might actually happen.
You might also like to read:
- Google I/O 2012 round up
- Siri & Google Now: Has Voice Control come of age?
- Tech Radar’s Hands on: Google Nexus 7 review
- How to enable Face Unlock on Android
- Android Key Lime Pie set to be Google’s next version in 2013
- Ice Cream Sandwich – a delicious technology treat
- How to update your smartphone and tablet software
- Is Microsoft’s Surface tablet worth waiting for?