Android Jelly Bean 4.2 New Features Review

Jelly Bean is an incremental update to Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich mobile OS, but it helps Android close the gap on iOS and has been very well received by those lucky enough to be able to access it. Indeed, while version 4.2 Jelly Bean is now upon us, as seen on the Nexus 4 smartphone and Nexus 7 and 10 tablets, most devices are yet to be upgraded to 4.1 from 4.0, let alone to 4.2. Here, we’ll look in-depth at the changes in Jelly Bean 4.1, and then explain some of the new features added to 4.2.

One of the fi rst things you notice when you use Jelly Bean for the fi rst time is the speed boost. Google calls it ‘Project Butter’, and we can vouch for the fact it is lag-free and super-smooth. It’s extended vsync timing to all drawing and animation, tripled the graphics buffering and even applied some wizardry that anticipates where on the display your fi nger will move next. Following a period of inactivity, a CPU input boost is applied at the next touch event to eliminate latency.

Since Jelly Bean is an incremental update to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the interface hasn’t seen a major overhaul. The main addition is smooth animations, seen when you open an app, for example. Rather than the app suddenly popping up when you tap its icon, the animation gradually appears from wherever that icon is placed onscreen. Another improvement is that widgets and app shortcuts will automatically rearrange themselves around a new object, and if there’s only a certain space available the widget will resize itself to fit.

The Notifications bar has been enhanced and can now show more detail, such as including a text message or photo. Some notifications can be expanded or collapsed with a two-finger gesture. As well as showing more information, users can respond to the notification via multiple action buttons without opening the associated app. You could respond to a missed call by returning the call directly from the alert, for example.

Google Now 
One of the best new features in Jelly Bean is called Google Now, the latest development in Google search. Its aim is to stay one step ahead of you, offering the answers to your questions before you ask them. For Google Now to work at its best it needs to get to know you. When logged into your Google account, it will use your search history to learn what sort of things you look for. If you’re happy to divulge your search habits, location and similar information, Google Now will quickly become a useful tool. Dictation and keyboard input Until Jelly Bean, Android’s voice-input feature has required a data connection to function. Now, you can dictate an email or text message, for instance, regardless of whether you have a mobile or Wi-Fi connection. Words appear onscreen almost immediately after they’ve left your mouth.

Voice search 
As before, you can use the microphone icon to perform a voice search. Like Apple’s Siri, you can have the answers read aloud to you. Android also gets one over on Siri in the UK, since you can search for local businesses and attractions.

Chrome Google 
Chrome is the default web browser. It offers an excellent tabbed browsing experience and things such as your bookmarks, most visited sites and even open tabs can be easily synchronised with the desktop version of Chrome. There are other nifty settings, too, such as the ability to configure text scaling.

The biggest issue with Jelly Bean is its lack of Flash support. This puts it in a similar position to the iPad, on which Flash-based web and video content is inaccessible. If you’re happy to do a bit of hacking there are ways around this.

New in Jelly Bean 4.2 

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is preloaded on Google’s own-brand Nexus devices. It hasn’t announced when the free update will roll out to other devices – as always, if and when your specific device is upgraded will depend on whether its manufacturer decides doing so is worth its while. A new feature is the ability to configure multiple user accounts, each with its own Home screens, backgrounds, widgets, apps and games. It’s a snap to switch between users, without logging out. Gesture typing is another neat addition, which in effect turns Android’s keyboard into a Swype-style keyboard. You glide a finger over the characters you wish to use, and it intelligently works out what you’re trying to write, automatically inserting spaces. If you like taking panoramic photos, Photo Sphere is great. This camera feature allows you to take continuous pictures in any direction, then stitches them together in a sphere. Also new is wireless display technology, which lets you share what’s on your device on a larger screen, expandable notifications for more apps, lock-screen widgets, and quick settings in the Notifications bar. Note that not all these features will necessarily be available on all devices running Android 4.2, since the manufacturer will the OS how it sees fit.

Source.Tablet World UK.Edition.3.2013