Google has officially announced the next update to its mobile operating system, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, during its keynote at Google I/O 2012 in San Francisco.
Jelly Bean, previously thought as Android 5.0, builds upon Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, so it’s not a major face lift for Android OS, and this version specifically makes the platform faster, more intuitive and “buttery smooth”.
A key improvement, called Project Butter, enhances overall sensitivity and responsiveness of the system, as Google claims the entire Android framework is now at 60 frames/sec. Animation, scrolling and swiping should ideally be more fluid and smoother in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean compared to Ice Cream Sandwich. Google figured out a way to improve how fast the latest Android OS version responds to touch inputs.
The search giant and Android maker brought a nifty improvement to the homescreen in Jelly Bean. Widgets will change its size automatically to fit through the available space on a particular homescreen. Icons and other widgets within a homescreen will rearrange on their own to find an ideal space to fit the new widget. Google also made it easier to move around, or delete, items among homescreens.
Better Keyboard Prediction
Google updated the default Android keyboard to improve predictions, which should drop annoying auto-correct errors. In line with this, Voice Typing dictation in Jelly Bean will work even when you are offline, which required an Internet connection on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
In Jelly Bean, users can take advantage of multi-touch gestures to expand several kinds of notifications and read text messages or emails without the need to open another application. Moreover, you can perform several tasks directly from the notification bar, which further increases its usability. During the keynote, Google presented an example where users can comment of “like” Foursquare check-ins, share photos or “+1″ Google+ posts and return missed calls straight from the notification bar.
However, with the new software development tool barely two days old, only a few apps can take advantage of the new notification features, but Google trusts that more app developers will integrate these advanced notifications. On second thought, only a handful of smartphones and tablets can run Jelly Bean, which should make developers think twice on updating their applications. Custom ROM developers must be quite busy right now to bring Android 4.1 to older devices that will not receive official updates of the new version.
The most important feature in Jelly Bean may be the diverse improvements to Android’s built-in search function. Search “cards” display search results to different queries in a more graphical and user-friendly way, and integrate into Voice Search in Android.
Search cards include image search results, answers to questions, traffic, weather forecast, etc.
Google Now is another addition to the native search function in Android, which aims to provide “the right information at just the right time.” For example, it will display current traffic conditions during commute time. It may even show train schedules if you are at a subway station.
Other Notable Features
Other features in Jelly Bean include updates to Google Beam, which lets you transfer data from one Android phone to another with just a single tap, the built-in camera app, and accessibility features.
Overall, Jelly Bean is not a major revamp to Ice Cream Sandwich; a minor update that builds upon and refines the latter.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will first arrive on Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Samsung Galaxy S smartphones and the Motorola XOOM tablet by the middle of July, but app developers can now take delight in downloading the development tools from the Android Developers website.