The world got a sneak peek into the latest Android 4.1 or the Jelly Bean at Google’s I/O developer conference held June 27 and 29, 2012. And boy, have we already begun lusting after it. Set to be the fastest, smoothest Android OS yet, you can expect to find the Jelly Bean in the upcoming Nexus series and the Motorola Xoom, which is expected to be launched mid-July. Some may say that Android’s latest offering comes a tad too soon as most of the handsets haven’t even moved on to the Android 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich update. At that, Google is quick to remark that this is just an incremental update to the ICS version.
Google Now: Google Now is probably the most exciting upgrade you get to see in the Jelly Bean. It combines information about your location, your e-mail history, your search history and your calendar to intuitively identify what you may be looking for and when you would need it. For instance, Google Now can tell you how long it will take for you to reach your destination based on traffic and weather conditions. Unfortunately, you will need to wait a little longer until it is perfected, for it doesn’t always work flawlessly.
Type better: Jelly Bean’s design incorporates a little extra something that Google has codenamed Project Butter. With the intention to improve Android’s performance, the aptly named experiment really helps make Android’s working so much more fluid, smooth, and faster. To start with, it features a more enhanced version of the predictive keyboard that the ICS had, only this one throws out more relevant word suggestions on the screen as you type. The updated keyboard will even familiarize itself with your typing style and adapt to automatically correct your common typos by suggesting the right words for you. The keyboard experience is going to be a lot similar to the Swiftkey one, except that for now you may no longer need the Switfkey with the Jelly Bean’s stock keyboard.
Talk to the phone: Like the Siri, Jelly Bean too comes with voice searching capabilities. It searches through Google’s knowledge search and produces far more detailed answers than Siri manages. With the Jelly Bean, you can even perform voice typing without connecting to the internet. The offline voice typing feature lets you talk to the phone and have it convert your words into text for better typing. Highly accurate, for now it only works in English, but Google has promised us additional languages soon.
Do more: Android Beam also gets updated in the Jelly Bean version, letting you share pictures and videos between phones using NFC technology. The previous version of the Android Beam in the ICS only lets you share apps, web pages, contacts and directions. Another really cool feature of the Jelly Bean is that it lets you resize your widgets to suit your needs. You’ll no longer be frustrated about a widget hogging too much of your screen space, not leaving enough space for anything else. Notifications are more intuitive in the Jelly Bean, allowing you to expand or collapse each notification directly from the notifications tray and directly providing you with a list of actions you can take. For example, a message or call back on the number you get a missed call from.
With a host of great features to make your smart phone or tablet function more friendly, Android 4.1 is just what was needed to keep Google at the top of the list. However, for now, Android 4.1 is only available on those phones that were shipped with Android 4.0. Will most of the Android phones running Gingerbread benefit? Only time shall tell.