With so many devices that still haven’t received an ICS update yet, you are forgiven if you still think Android Ice-Cream Sandwich is the latest Android iteration. But you are wrong, because Google has officially announced the much-hyped successor of the popular mobile operating system – Android 4.1 Jellybean. According to the version number, some may think it’s just a minor update that won’t bring much improvements over the already great ICS. And they are right, up to a point. Jellybean is not just a minor update – it’s much more than that! But, while it has a dozen of new features, it’s nothing like as a big step forward over ICS as ICS was over Honeycomb/Gingerbread.
I bet you are getting curious about those new features Jellybean brings to the table, and we’re getting to that right now!
One huge downside of the Android operating system was that it was not very smooth, and thus not so appealing to end-users, to be honest. Google finally realized that they needed to fix it, so they came up with a solution – the so-called Project Butter. With ingenious algorithms, Project Butter keeps the CPU, GPU and screen in synchronization, producing a lag-free user experience at 60 fps, where applicable.
One of the biggest advantages of Android over the competition is the notifications system. In the latest installment of the OS, Google made the good even better, by redesigning the appearance of the notifications, and extending user’s control over them. Now the user can make a call from the notification pull-down bar, snooze an alarm, or send an e-mail, all with a single click! And you can get rid of those annoying app notifications, by choosing which applications you don’t want to notify you. Neat, huh?
More flexible home screen
In the past, if a widget didn’t fit your home screen, you had to remove shortcuts and other widgets manually to make space for the big one. Now, Jellybean takes care of that for you. If the widget is bigger than the available space, the home screen automatically rearranges the already placed widgets to make space for the new one. And if it’s just too big, no problem! Jellybean resizes it to fit the remaining space!
Updated camera app
Ice Cream Sandwich took the camera app to a new level. Now Jellybean just refines it. With a swipe, you can preview, compare and delete your images with, again, a single swipe!
New, smarter keyboard
Visually, the keyboard is the same. But under the hood, it’s completely different. The dictionaries are more accurate, and they predict your next word. The text-to-speech is also improved, and now works offline too.
More accessibility options
In Jellybean, the Accessibility menu took an improvement as well. It received a new feature, called Gesture Mode, in which you can navigate on your phone with simple gestures. You also have an option to install accessibility plug-ins to enable external Braille input and output devices via USB and Bluetooth.
Improved Android Beam
Android Beam debuted on Ice Cream Sandwich, but it wasn’t perfect. Google had understood that and made it better. You know the drill – touch two NFC-enabled devices back to back, and tap the screen to beam whatever content is on screen to the other device.
Everybody knows Google has the best search engine, no questions asked. And it’s so deeply integrated into Android OS, that Android wouldn’t be Android without it. Google took Search to a new level with Google Now. It’s a Siri-like app integrated into Jellybean that uses the full potential of the Google search engine and Voice Search to answer all your questions. And not only it answers questions, but it automatically tells you the current weather, gives you the results of the matches with your favorite team, or when your next train arrives.
Even if Android 4.1 Jellybean is a minor update, it’s not that small update you just overlook. It’s better than that! It unleashes the full potential of your device, thus leading to a great user experience. What’s best is that if your current device supports Ice Cream Sandwich, it’s likely to support Jellybean as well. It’s not the core that changed, but the little details which keep it alive.