June has been a month of major announcements. Apple announced the iOS 6 and Microsoft, the Surface tablet just to name a couple. Not to be left behind, Google at its annual developer conference, the Google I/O 2012 made two major announcements among others. One was the introduction to the next Android operating system, Android 4.1 fondly called Jelly Bean; and the launch of an Android tablet called Nexus 7. In this post, we’ll take a look at what the Android Jelly Bean is all about and the features and improvements you can expect from this release.
About Android Jelly Bean
While the Android Ice Cream Sandwich was a transformation of the Android operating system, Jelly Bean is more of an improvement over the ICS. That means you get a richer, smoother, and more dynamic experience when using your Android device than before. While there are a few new features to the operating system, the significant transformation appears in the way the UI feels and works. Here’s a look at what you can expect with the Android Jelly Bean.
In the past, Android’s OS has been heavily criticized for its slowness. Apple’s iPhone and the Windows Phone UI were considered superior to Android’s operating system. Thanks to Project Butter, this deficiency is being fixed in Android Jelly Bean. Responsiveness is faster and transitions fast, fluid, and effortless. This video shows it all.
Better Engagement with Notifications
With earlier Android OS’ s notifications remained just notifications. With each notification, you had to access the relevant app to handle the alert. Now, you can engage better with notifications as they are directly actionable. Each notification can be expanded to perform additional tasks. For instance, if you are playing a song, the notification will display the album art of the song with buttons to play, pause or stop the song. Similarly, if you just missed a call, the notification lets you Call Back, and when you get Google Plus notifications, you can +1 and re-share right from within the notification area.
Widgets on the Android Jelly Bean Home screen are now more customizable. As you add widgets to the Home screen they are automatically resized. When you place a widget on the Home screen, the rest of the Home Screen widgets make room for what’s grabbing your attention now. Therefore, engaging with your apps and widgets is easier.
Keyboard that Understands You
Smartphones have always had trouble predicting what you wish to type. The Android Jelly Bean keyboard brings with it an improved dictionary and much needed improvements in text to speech technologies. This means that the keyboard offers better guesses at what you type next and voice typing on Android works even better. Jelly Bean promises voice typing even when there’s no data connection!
Android Jelly Bean is a boon for users with poor eyesight as the Gesture Mode technology combines touch, swipe and speech modes to help navigate the user interface. There’s also support for Braille input and output devices via USB and Bluetooth.
Android Beam is just another fancy term that lets you basically share your photos, web pages, contact information, videos and more by tapping two NFC enabled devices back to back. It will then beam whatever is on your screen on to the next device’s screen. Simples!
Plus, connect your Android device to a Bluetooth device that supports Simple Secure Pairing and your syncing is complete.
Google Now: New and Improved Search
Search in Android Jelly Bean is better than before. There’s a new look to the search results. You can use Voice search to query Google and you will get a reply back hopefully with the right answer! Search is powered by Knowledge Graph, a technology that connects what users are searching for with a knowledge database that Google has.
Google Now is a new feature that gives you search results instantly as and when you need it. For instance, if you are commuting to work, Google Now displays cards indicating the traffic at the moment of departure and suggests the best route to your office. And if you are waiting for the next train, you get instant information on the train’s arrival timings. How about dining in an Italian restaurant before you head off for home? Google Now doesn’t just display the closest Italian restaurants, but also indicates the best dishes available there! That’s just to name a few things that Google Now can do.
Other improvements to the OS include additional input language support for Persian, Hindi, and Thai, and gesture controls for the Camera gallery.
Jelly Bean is expected to be released for the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Motorola Xoom phones in mid-July, so get ready to experience a better Android pretty soon.