All you need to know about Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Google blew everyone away when they announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and it’s amazing features yesterday at Google I/O 2012. It not a revolutionary shift, like GB to ICS, but rather an incremental update which brings a couple of mind-blowing enhancements. The biggest feature is called Project Butter, an effort to improve overall performance and response time of Android. From 4.1 onwards, the entire system is 60 FPS consistent, and while the difference of a few milliseconds might sound like small potatoes, when you actually compare Jelly Bean side by side with an ICS-laced phone, the difference becomes clearly noticeable. The CPU also automatically ramps up, without delays, the moment a touch is detected, to improve performance.

The home screen is also tweaked, bringing dynamically resizing widgets so you can instantly place a widget on the screen without having to resize it or move it, and if there’s space but app icons are coming in the way, the widget will now automatically rearrange icons to create space. You can now also remove icons and widgets by just flicking them off screen.

Voice control no longer requires an active internet connection. You can now type a message or perform actions even when there’s not internet connection available. Right now only US English is supported, but pretty soon more languages will be added. The Camera app, which received lot of attention last year has also been enhanced.  The gallery app is now slickly integrated within the camera app, so you can swipe to the left after snapping a photo to view it. You can also swipe left and right after that, to view other photos and if there are lots of photos, then you can pinch to zoom out to view all your images in filmstrip mode. Deleting is also simple, you can just swipe the picture off screen, and if you happen to do that accidently, then you can hit the undo button at the bottom to bring it back. You can also share videos and photos via Android Beam or other services directly from the camera app.

One of the most visible updates is to the amazing notification center. Alerts now dynamically expand and shrink, and canned responses are even more integrated. When you receive a MMS, you get to see a preview of the image right inside the notification center. You can also +1 Google+ notifications and images directly, like Foursquare check-ins, call back the person who’s call you missed, and more.

Google Now and search improvements got the most applause of the day, however. It’s got a brand new UI, and the app responds to your queries with seemingly real female voice . Google Now is so smart, that it knows when you’re at a bus stop and will tell you when your ride will arrive, or alert you to delays for your flights. It will even monitor your calendar and tell you when you’ll need to leave your location to make your next appointment. It takes advantage of all your data from different Google services and also offers you personalized results. And because it doesn’t require an internet connection for recognizing input, it’s blazing fast, even faster than Siri.


App updates have also been enhanced. While previous Google Play used to download the entire app once again when updating the app, with Smart App Updates, it will only download required parts of the app, saving bandwidth and improving update speed. On average, a smart update is just 1/3rd of a normal update. This feature will be available to Gingerbread also, via a Google Play update. App Encryption was also announced, so paid apps will now be encrypted automatically by Google Play with a device-specific key, before and after the installation of the app.

Full list of new features is available here. Jelly Bean will be coming to Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S and Motorola Xoom by mid-July, along with the source code.

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