Android Jelly Bean features explained in simple English
So Google I/O 2012′s most awaited announcements was the Android 4.1 update, named Jellybean. there’s a lot that got announced in this ‘point’ update and it might be quite a task to get a grip on ‘what’s-new-and-how’s-it-going-to-be-useful-to-me’. So just for you I’ve put up this post it explains everything we’ve heard at Google I/O this year.
Oh and the Jelly Bean update will start rolling out from Mid-July for the Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus and Xoom tablets (US only I presume). if you don’t own any of these, then you are going to have to wait up!
The Jelly Bean update bring a few new features, but what it brings more than anything is performance improvements to Android, one that is designed to make the Android experience smooth. A common complaint amongst most users on stock Android has been how jarring some of the animations can be within the platform. Most ROMs available from independent developers also continuously seem to be featuring this as a feature addition.
So with the Jelly Bean update Google’s made a massive change to how everything will run. The project which was called Project Butter was aimed at exactly that.
“Smooth, Fast and Fluid Android”
Project Butter looks to improve overall speed of taps, actions and be even more responsive than it has ever been. Finally all that hardware will see some real use! Project Butter will enable triple buffering in the graphics pipeline, to ensure consistent frame rates with interface animations. This basically means a smoother, faster and more fluid Android experience to you as a user.
Here’s a small video of Google’s Project Butter, well the results of it actually. This should really explain all that mambo-jambo
“Widgets and Notifications, they’re resizable and smarter”
Widgets and Notifications have seen a major upgrade with Android Jelly Bean, one of the biggest if I may dare to say!
Widgets will now not only auto resize to fit in the space you want to put it in, your existing widgets and app shortcuts will also move automatically to accommodate a new widget. This means that you don’t need to place it on another homescreen, rearrange existing widgets and shortcuts and then place it where you wanted it in the first place. That definitely makes it easier to add them to the homescreen and go about doing things.
Notifications too have seen improvements, The notifications are smarter too. At the demo, Google showcased how from the notification itself one could take actions. So a for a missed call, you could automatically call or message the person from there itself, without having to actually go to the log and then initiate the action. What this means is that it will see a reduction in the number of steps you will now have to take to do what you wanted to do with the info in the first place.
For a meeting, you can inform people already that you’re running late and more. Apps will be able to utilize this feature too and what’s even more amazing is that you can expand the size of the notification to include more info, just by a two finger gesture on the screen.
Obviously there’s a lot more to it, but these itself have a lot of ramifications in terms of how we will approach notifications from now on.
“Search is new and redone from grounds up”
Search in Jelly Bean is a big departure from how it is on the current and past Android versions. Firstly the UI has seen a redesign, it will be a white bar on the top (apart from other bits) and therefore more prominent.
Voice Search is a new functionality that’s been added to it, so now one can not only search for results but you will also be able get Google Search to reply back in a voice. Yes an actual voice along with the search result. This will see a lot of improvements going further, but it clearly is a big step forward to building a voice based assistant for Android.
The other new feature in search is Google Now. Google Now represents the first step towards a context aware software on the phone. I remember a lot of talk going on about this when Nokia and Symbian were the unquestioned leaders in the industry. Google’s approach to this is in line with the same principles.
So what Google Now will do is (with your permission) keep a track of your search history, your calendar events, your location and a few more things and automatically tell you things that you want to ask or find out, even before you’d type it!
For example if you are supposed to be at a meeting the app will alert you in advance based on the time it will take for you to reach the place going by how you normally commute, (so if it’s a bus, it will take into account time taken to reach the bus stop, wait for the bus, traffic conditions, etc.) and make sure you get there before or on time!
What if you are at an airport? Well if you’ve searched for the details of your flight, Google Now will remember this and as soon as you arrive at the airport or even other wise keep a lookout for info on the flight. This means that if there’s a change, you will be notified of it and make sure you don’t miss it.
There’s a lot more to Google Now and it warrants a post of its own, but what it means (discounting the privacy concerns) is that your device will indeed be smart and will compliment you as opposed to just acting as a reminder machine. Pretty powerful the combinations will be as this will make Search even more personalized and customized for you the user!
Here’s a small video of Google Now -
“App encryptions and Smart Updates”
As the proliferation of Android has grown and along with it the number of free apps, there’s been an increased pressure for the paid content to remain paid and not become pirated and easily copyable.
So with Jelly Bean apps will now get app encryption features, this means that the data in that app will be encrypted (meaning more secure for you) and therefore less chances of it being copied, pirated. The other thing it will indirectly seek to do is reduce the efficacy of malwares and viruses with respect to the data they are able to access once they’re in.
The other interesting and logically expected update will be smart updates, This feature will see introduction with Jelly Bean and is going to be backwards compatible right up to Gingerbread if I remember correctly. What it means is that now apps will only download that portion of the ‘apk’ [app file] instead of the whole app when there’s a update. This means that unless there’s a huge change to an app, it will only download a section of the apk it needs to carry out the update. What it means for you as a user is improved data consumption and therefore there will be more that you can do with your data package. For the developer the biggest bit of good news is that they don’t have to do anything to effect this as Google will do this for them at no additional cost.
The paid apps will also have a device specific key which will mean that they’re more locked to your device. I’ll update you more on this and what it means for you, later.
“Play Stores is more than just an app marketplace”
Ever since Google rebranded the marketplace to Play Store, it has quietly made it more functional and more diverse in terms of offering. It can now very easily rival the iOS AppStore.
Play Store will receive some new additions from Jelly Bean onwards which will obviously be available to older versions of the Android platform. First thing that comes in is the ability to actually buy content, that’s right buying it as opposed to just renting it. You will be able to buy a movie or a TV show or series and view it on the Android devices or on the PC too.
In addition to it, one will be able to buy magazines and read them on the tablet and the phone. Popular titles will be available for a ‘loaner’ for 14 days. This means that you can now download a magazine to check it out without having to purchase it and if you like it then go ahead and simply initiate the in-app purchase. It’s almost like browsing the magazine in the bookstore before you buy it, but with a longer period. This purely so that you can get comfortable with the approach and are more willing to try it out more.
Needless to say this is meant as an answer to Kindles and iPads.
“Camera UI gets an overhaul too”
With Ice Cream Sandwich the camera UI got an upgrade and if you are a Nexus user, it just got a whole lot simpler. Not a bad thing. However with the Jelly Bean update there’s an even more significant improvement to how one views images.
As a user, you will now be able to view images much more naturally (in terms of gestures) and quickly. All you will have to do is flick the camera UI to the left and the gallery will open up with the images you’ve clicked. You can then share the images from there itself or even delete it there itself. And in case you delete an image by mistake, you will be able to ‘undelete’ it too.
That is an amazing feature if you ask me!
“Offline Text to speech”
Up until now, Voice typing has been available on Android devices but only usable with a good data connection or roughly put when your phone is connected to the internet. With Jelly Bean this will change and now you can type offline by speaking to your phone. The engine that runs this has been made so small and compact that it now resides on the phone, this means you can pretty much tell your phone what to do, almost like having a secretary to take down dictations.
Best of it all is that it will work even when the phone is in ‘Airplane’ mode. Now you can easily have your Android device ‘pen’ down your thoughts. However currently it will support only English, with support for more languages coming soon.
“A predictive keyboard and many more languages”
Jelly Bean will also get a new keyboard, well more of a feature. The stock keyboard will now have a predictive angle to it. Which means it will keep a track of the words you use and automatically suggest the most probable one based on your typing habits. This is not something new as there are a lot of third party keyboards that do this for you. But the fact that the stock keyboard will also have this feature means only good news for the users.
The number of languages supported in Android has also been increased, there will now be native support for 18 languages including Hindi. Arabic and Hebrew support has been improved and with Jelly Bean and users will now not only be able to view the the text in these languages now but also type them! That’s huge if you ask me. Coupled with voice typing support for these in the future it could become a killer functionality.
With Jelly Bean blind user will be able to do more with an Android phone. The phone will now allow blind people to get a lot more out of their phone with a combination of braille keypad support, voice feedback and gestures.
External Braille input will be supported on Android via Bluetooth. This might not mean much for you, but think about how it could improve the life of a blind person.
That pretty much really outlines what is new in Android Jellybean. If you think this article helped, please leave your comments or a thank you down below in the comments section. If you think I missed out something or you didn’t like it, leave me a comment down below to!
UPDATE: Hey! So it seems in my excitement or tiredness, I forgot to tell you about NFC!
With Jelly Bean there is more that can be shared than what you’ve been sharing already, videos perhaps? You will also be able to tap the NFC enabled speakers and headsets to pair them with your Android phone now (much like Nokia users were already able to do for a almost a year now)