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.
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.
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 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
Source.Tablet World UK.Edition.3.2013