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Best Features Of Google’s Android 4.1 aka Jelly Bean

Radford C. Jun 27, 2012 1


Google has been adamant about producing an update that would extend the 4.x framework into a more cohesive experience. Enter Jelly Bean.

Smoother App Transitions – “Project Butter”

Android 4.1 will boast smooth transitions between screens than previous version before by way of Project Butter – a “triple buffered graphics” system that creates a consistent frame rate between swipes. Google validated this through a high speed camera which noted the differences in screen transitions between Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.

Voice Transcription and prediction – Google Now

Voice transcription and search now has a similar look and feel of Siri’s user interface. Swiping to preview with the camera app is more streamlined. However, Google Now goes a step further than Siri to offer everything you need to know without you ever saying a word.

Google Now works by swiping up on the homescreen and seeing a list of various cards. These cards know what your day looks like, as Google Now pays attention to your usual route to work, its commute time, your favorite sports, your calendar, vacation plans, and nearby places you might want to eat.

With this data, Google Now creates an array of cards that explains which is the best way to commute based on the choices you’ve made in the past. So if you’ve taken a bus route versus car pooling, you can see the differences between the two and Google Now will suggest the route. Google Now essentially communicates data to data with various apps, search history, etc.

Predictive Text For Keyboard

Android 4.1′s new keyboard lets you get started by typing a word or two, and then based on what you’ve said makes a few educated guesses on what your next word will be and offers them up as options before you’ve even started typing the next few words which now brings Android and Windows Phone to the predictive text family with RIM expecting to push their predictive text for Blackberry 10 in the fall. iOS now stands as the only mobile OS without official predictive text.

Updated Notifications

Google has been a step up from iOS notifications and now Google has extended this lead with quick step actions from the notification widget. This allows for quick commenting and quick social media interactions from an app standpoint and allows app developers to get users to interact with the app (i.e. Foursquare) at the notification screen. Gmail is also on the notifications tab, which keeps users from having to switch back and forth between apps.

A more prominent update is the expansion of notification tidbits. This allows users to go right into their app.

Android Beam

This has been around for quite some time but now the inter-device communication mechanism lets users send photos and videos by tapping two Android devices together and pair NFC-enabled devices the same way. Instead of fumbling with your Bluetooth headset (perhaps while in the car?), you can just tap your phone to it and it would be paired. Speakers, keyboards… anything could be possible between NFC and Bluetooth.

Camera

Android 4.1 now allows users to swipe back for a quick preview of the last photo taken. Now Jelly Bean extends this further by pinching to shrink the gallery into a film strip user interface allowing users to navigate to the thumbnail quickly.

Similarly, you can swipe a picture from the film strip away to delete it much like the multitasking. You can also undo the swipe to undelete an image from the trash can.

Overall

After the WWDC, Windows Phone 8 announcement and the Jelly Bean update, it’s clear that each of the companies are taking pages from each other. Google Now takes a page from the Reminders app of iOS and Apple’s new Maps app. But the biggest update has to be the integrated data on the voice transcription itself. This is huge as this does not limit the device to a cellular or internet connection. The camera swipe to preview has been around since iOS 5 and Windows Phone 7.5. Now Jelly Bean joins the family.

What will be really interesting to see is how the developer now looks at the smartphone landscape as they’re now faced with three platforms to develop on. Despite this, each of the companies have made it way to easy to develop and deploy apps. There’s also the Google Cloud Messaging but the use cases still seem limited.