Android 4.1 Jelly Bean In-depth Review

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On the 27th of June at the Google I/O conference Google announced the next version of Android, 4.1 Jellybean which will be released during the latter part of the year. However a functional version was released/leaked for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus shortly after the announcement was made.

Having a Galaxy Nexus lying around running with Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4, I decided to attempt an install. The owner of the (un)fortunate Galaxy Nexus, @edwardsuranga who was also a natural born risk taker, like myself, reluctantly gave me the device to hardbrick it even if it comes to that point. The Rom was packaged to a ZIP file and the installation was to be carried over Clockworkmod rather than using the fastboot mod. After a complete factory data wipe (Just to avoid any bugs that may occur because of the existing data), I installed the rom on the device.

Initial impressions were the same we saw on Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.4 which is the last released update for this device, after the rom was installed it took several minutes to boot up as the dalvik cache was wiped clean prior to the installation. The Bootanimation has been changed from the coloured gear wheels to a glowing X sign.

The Lockscreen features a third shortcut apart from the Camera and Unlock screen for the Google Now feature which was introduced with Android 4.1 for the first time.

This feature can also be accessed when the screen is swiped in a circular motion from left towards right.

The Google search bar on the home screen which now takes you to the Google Now can intelligently display answers in cards to any question you speak or type at it, which makes it superior to apple’s siri which was introduced with the iPhone 4.

Widgets, which are one of the most important entities to an android user hasn’t been forgotten with the Jellybean upgrade either. Widgets will now automatically resize itself to fit into any screen it will be dropped, so that users doesn’t have to go through manually resizing them. If the page is cluttered with icons, dropping the widget over them will cause the icons to rearrange themselves automatically to make space for the widget.

The most noticeable feature of Android Jellybean is the speed, and the snappier responsiveness of the overall interface. The performance improvements are a result of the “project Butter” which uses touch anticipation, triple buffering in the graphics pipeline, Vsync timing across all drawing and animation done by the Android framework, including application rendering, touch events, screen composition, a fixed frame rate of 60fps  to create a fluid and buttery smooth UI.  The stuttering and lags are now been taken care of and the user interface now delivers a smoother and rich Android experience. Touch responsiveness, which is also another new part of the UI, predicts where your finger will be on next and preloads the corresponding animations which will be displayed once you touch the screen.

Triple buffering, also another feature of android Jellybean allows the CPU, GPU, and the display to work in parallel at the same time, instead of waiting for turns to execute tasks.

The notification bar has been changed as well; the notifications are now expandable and can be disabled on a per app basis. The clock which was previously smaller has been moved to the top left and it is more visible at the first sight now, while the shortcut for the settings option has been placed on its right.

One of the useful features is that if you miss a call, the notification bar gives you the option to text back, or call the number. It is a quite convenient option that saves time going through launchers to access those features, as Google has identified that as a more likely step that will be taken by most users after a call is missed.

The camera app has been improved. On a side note I should mention The Samsung galaxy nexus has a fantastic camera, and the photographs are high in colour depth and quality. Even the Galaxy SII and the Galaxy Note is inferior to the Camera of the Galaxy Nexus, even at the time it was running on Ice Cream Sandwich. The interface has not been changed, but the transitions have been changed. After capturing the photo, the screen can be swiped left to view the last captured photo and it can be swiped right again to view the camera. Overall the colour depth and the quality has no significant changes at least during the initial testing that were carried.

The gallery and Share options are still the same as they were on Ice Cream Sandwich. Major upgrades apart from the instant responsiveness are not visible.

Messaging interface is still the same in overall appearance. When you type a message from the keypad, A downward arrow appears below giving you the option to hide the keyboard. The Keyboard word prediction has been improved, as the predictions are now more accurate than the earlier version.

The keyboard also features an offline typing option which allows you to use Voice typing even when you are offline from internet access.

The Notifications and ringtones are louder now, which is a great improvement, because earlier when it was on the Ice Cream Sandwich many calls were missed because they were audible inside loud environments. The launcher with the holo inspired theme is still the same, with separate applications and widgets pane. However the transition among pages is much faster than before.

A new application “Google Currents” is now preloaded and the Android Google Play store (Previously Android Market) is now upgraded to version 3.7.13. Two new applications Play books and Play magazines are also visible on the launcher, but did not bother to go through it as most options are not available in this country.

The settings option now displays all Accounts configured in the phone, on the initial settings screen itself.

The developer options can be turned on and off with a toggle making it easier to disable all developer options at once.

The About Phone page displays Android Version now as 4.1, and the Build number as JRN84D.

The well-known Easter egg hidden inside the Android version number option, which is invoked by tapping on it multiple times now, displays the Android Jellybean logo. Back in the Gingerbread days, it used to display a Zombie art.

Mobile Data usage monitor application which was introduced with the Ice Cream Sandwich update is still available, without any visible changes or added options. For people who are with limited data plans, this was a massive life saver to avoid unexpected Mobile Data charges. It is also helpful to review the apps that require Mobile Data and to monitor its usage. 

Battery life has been improved with the new Jellybean update, but this may be a result of the factory data wipe as well since the large collection of apps that were in the system was wiped during the installation of the Jellybean rom. 

Web browsing feels much faster than before with Google Chrome, and the stock browser as well. The tabbed browsing feature is a life saver when going through multiple pages at once.

So, from the initial impressions on Android Jellybean, we can state that Google has done a great job once again, and it will be an upgrade worth the wait. Unlike the initial preview leaks that appeared for previous android versions earlier, it is safe to say that this has no visible bugs as of yet after three days of experiments and regular usage which is quite impressive and the Google Dev team deserve a loud applause for that. The Asus Google Nexus 7 tablet which is expected to be released soon will operate on Android Jellybean and the Official updates will be pushed to compatible devices soon.

This is what we thought about Android Jellybean. The comments Section is now open for your suggestions and reviews about Android Jellybean.

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