Jelly Bean is the latest in the series of delicious Android versions that Google has been doling out and as usual, promises to take things to the next higher level of computing be it in a smartphone or a tablet device. Designated Android 4.1 (and not 5.0 as some had speculated), Jelly Bean however brings about some significant enhancements over its predecessor, Android 4.0 ICS which can be considered to be much more than to warrant just the 0.1 increase over the ICS version. In fact, Jelly Bean does comes as a surprise as it was expected to be just a minor upgrade over the ICS.
Read on to find out what makes Jelly Bean special.
To begin with, Jelly Bean comes from those that revolutionized online search so that the term Google and online search has become almost synonymous. Hence it is just natural for Jelly Bean to have better search features built into it. For the latest Android version, search results are depicted in an innovative ‘card’ format. Voice Search is another feature that has been improved upon so that the system is now more capable of recognizing natural voice while the results are also delivered in a more human like voice. Queries like ‘Who is Maria Sharapova’ is well recognized and promptly answered. The feature is only relevant to searches now but has all the signs of getting bigger and more comprehensive in future upgrades.
Overall performance enhancement is another key aspect of Jelly Bean and a lot of effort and priority has been accorded to this. The results too aren’t disappointing, claims Google stating Jelly Bean has ‘extended vsync timing across all drawing and animation done by the Android framework’. The OS boasts of ‘triple graphics buffering for smoother scrolling and rendering,’ something that Google described as part of their ‘Project Butter’ endeavor. From scrolling to paging and animations, everything is now a lot more smooth and consistent to deliver that buttery feeling. In fact, the frame refresh rate has been so enhanced that the OS will be able to predict where the user is going to touch on the screen before it actually happens!
Google Now is another nice feature of the Jelly Bean package. What it actually is that it remembers user preferences based on search history, usage pattern, calendar appointments and so on and presents information and messages based on those data. In essence, its like providing the device with shots of artificial intelligence with the aim of making them smarter than ever before. In real world terms, what it boils down to is that if the system is aware that the user is travelling on road, it will warn users if there are traffic disturbances and offer alternate routes. Or if the user has a plane to catch and is yet to hit the road, a suitable warning message will be issued.
However, Google Now is one of those features that really has to be tested in real world conditions to find out if it is really as cool as is being made out by its makers. In fact, it won’t be surprising if the feature falters in places though what also need to be said is that a start has been made and will only get better with each subsequent revision.
The Notification system too has been touched upon in Jelly Bean and has been made a lot more user friendly and efficient. What the new theme is that the notification shade is not just for notifying the user but also to respond to situations. So missed calls can be dialed up right from the notification bar saving users a few tabs as it previously required users to return to the phone app and do the necessary. Similarly, users will be able to send e-mail replies, quick messages or comment on social networking sites right from the notification area.
Further, Jelly Bean also allows for automatic resizing of app widgets based on parameters such as the home screen where it has been dropped, the size to which the user expands them, and the amount of space that the home screen has on offer.
Incremental app updates is another thoughtful addition to the Jelly Bean version and aims to cut down on the volume of app that need to be downloaded each time an update is made available. So while it took users to download the entire Android Package Kit or APK when an update came along, the new feature will ensure users only have to download those portions that have been changed.
Among the other enhancements include the improved voice diction support that allows for offline voice typing. Then there are also reasons to opt for keyboard typing as it is now endowed with auto text prediction, a feature that anticipates the next word the user is expected to type.
Jelly Bean will also allow users to share data such as pictures by tapping two devices together. The feature is based on near-field communications or NFC, an emerging wireless technology that can revolutionize the way we share date between two device within close proximity. The camera software too has been given a once over and includes some healthy improvements. As such, sorting the photo galley will now be easier while it will also be possible for users to compare two pictures by placing them side by side. Posting them on social networking sites will also be much more easier than before.
However, if all of the above sounds enticing enough, one still has to wait till mid July which is when Jelly Bean will be made available across devices. Also, its the new Nexus tablet (along with the Nexus smartphone as well) that will feature Jelly Bean initially though Motorola XOOM will also join the party soon.