|What's new in Google's brand new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Posted on 25 October 2012
Sweets, treats and everything in-between - that's how Google name their Android software. So, after Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, we have the long rumoured Jelly Bean. Originally we heard it was going to be a completely new software version, but instead it's an update to Ice Cream Sandwich and becomes Android 4.1 running initially on the Google Nexus 7 by Asus tablet. It's a pretty hefty update, so don't go thinking Google has been lazy here - there's plenty that's new - and here's Carphone Warehouse's guide to all the newness in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
It's not just software that Google gives a funny name to. Project Butter was the codename for the speed and fluidity improvements that have been made to Jelly Bean over its predecessor, Ice Cream Sandwich. Menus flash up and close faster, the screen predicts where your finger will end up, making screen presses more responsive, and Google Chrome, now built-in, is more 'buttery' - super fast phones like the Samsung Galaxy S III will be made even faster!
New notification bar.
Now the notification does far more than just tell you what's happened - it lets you control apps. This means you can expand or collapse notifications to get more or less detail, such as read a text, or control certain parts of your apps such as skipping tracks you're playing in the music player. You can also cancel future notifications from apps, or even uninstall apps altogether straight from the notification bar.
If you're a tablet user with Android 3.0 Honeycomb, or have a device with Ice Cream Sandwich, you may know about the resizing of widgets on homescreens. It's a cool feature that allows you to stretch or shrink a widget so you can get widgets to fit on your homescreens easier. Well, it's been bettered in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Now, as well as being able to resize them, when you place a widget on a homescreen other widgets will move around, making way for your new addition. Your homescreen will never be so tidy and easy to arrange, perfect for smaller screens, such as on the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini.
More practical photo album.
If you have Ice Cream Sandwich, you'll know that taking photos was made faster than ever before. Now Google has made it faster to view your photos too. From the camera screen just swipe across the screen to get to a filmstrip view of the shots you just took. No good? Just swipe them away to delete.
A future-predicting keyboard.
People now type on their phones more than ever - you're all texting, emailing and web surfing. So Google made the keyboard much, much smarter. The dictionary is more accurate, popping up with more relevant words, and it'll adapt over time, learning the words you use. And you know what? It'll even guess the next word, before you've started typing it!
Offline voice typing.
Text-to-speech in Jelly Bean is now effortlessly accurate, and where before you needed an internet connection, you can now voice type while offline.
A prettier, better Google Search.
Remember that Google toolbar that's on your homescreen? You may or may not use it, but now it's really worth giving it a try. Just tap the microphone icon and say what you want to search - voice search is now smarter, letting you ask questions as well as search single words. Google Search is now powered by something called the Knowledge Graph. In short, it pops up with an information card about whatever you searched. Typed in Leonardo da Vinci? You'll get a card with his place of birth, famous works and what other people searched after looking for da Vinci. You'll get even more addicted to internet information!
Something altogether awesome. Google Now is a feature that, once turned on, learns your life patterns and hobbies. Big football fan? It'll pop up a card updating you on news and scores. Driving to work? It'll know when you leave, displaying current traffic conditions for you so you don't need to search them manually. It'll give you an optimum route too. Google Now will even suggest nearby bars, restaurants, and places of interest when you're out and about. You can customise Google Now so it'll only track and update you on specific topics too, so it'll never be too much.
How do I get it?
Currently Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is available on the Google Nexus 7 by Asus tablet, Samsung Galaxy Note II and Samsung Galaxy S III Mini smartphones, and as a free downloadable update for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone. More updates are in the works for phones from other manufactures too. Those that have been confirmed include the HTC One X and HTC One S, and the Samsung Galaxy S III. We can expect the over the air updates to begin in late October 2012.