The 2012 keynote speech is over and of course the first announcement might be considered the biggest announcement of the day. You guessed it! But then again, maybe not, it's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This is the new version of the Android software to be pushed out to devices starting next month and who is heading up that device list? Well, the Nexus 7 tablet for sure and of course followed by the Galaxy Nexus coming through OTA (over-the-air) mid-July. Now let's get into all the features. The most exciting part of every Android Update is what changes and improvements Google has decided to bring to the table for their OS.
- First off, Jelly bean has completely rethought the interaction you get with on screen widgets. You can now drag the widget from the top of the screen or to the bottom and all existing shortcuts and widgets in the way will be transitioned to the top, as your chosen widget will take their place. If there is not enough room, well not to worry. The widget will automatically resize itself to fit on screen in the part of the grid you have chosen. This is cool, efficient and all around a better way to use and integrate widgets into your home screen and use with your daily life. Its fast, it's simple, and it's a fun way to get what you need and love most on the main screen of your device.
- Now I know a small complaint I had was the fact that the text keyboard and voice typing function on android could be better. With ICS, it did have a significant lift in improvement but it still isn't where I thought it should be. At least for me. In jelly bean, the text typing keyboard is becoming much more accurate and learns intelligently over time as you use it. This is a great enhancement for many users as plenty of people use many different forms of every language and talk using many different forms of slang and verbiage. This will help plenty of people have the ability to speak as they normally speak in a face to face conversation, (which is how we all like to interact through text anyway, its only human to convey ourselves in a message as we do in person. Voice typing has had a huge uplift as well. Brand new in Jelly bean, the speech recognizer has been shrunk down to size to fit inside the phones internal memory to allow for speech recognition and voice typing capabilities without the need or usage of Mobile Data. This is huge! Personally having to use this on a daily basis makes this an improvement to the OS that I have been waiting for. Better, faster, more accurate voice typing. The update for offline voice typing will be launching for US English only to start but will continue to roll out with more language support in the coming months.
- Now I know there are a huge number and growing for that matter of android photographers out there. Or maybe you just love to snap pictures of everything possible that happens to you and those around you in your daily life. You might be asking, what's new in Jelly Bean for me? Well you will be pleased to know that there are some updates rolling out for the camera app as well. In ICS, the camera app took a photo and then allowed you to quickly move back to snapping another great shot. In jelly Bean 4.1, the camera app has gotten an update that allows you to snap a photo, and then quickly view that photo right before it reverts back to snapshot mode. The camera app also has a new way to view your photos in the gallery. In the jelly bean update, the gallery will now have the option to flip through those pictures just as quickly as you took them by pinching to enter film strip mode and swipe left or right to view those picture perfect moments. A very cool update indeed and a great way to share those moments with those who are a part of your life.
- Notifications for android jelly bean have also been expanded upon as they are now buildable and integrated into your apps. Let's say you have a meeting to attend. And there are multiple people attending the same meeting that you also have invited into a group message board. You can reply to that group right from the notification that you might be late and hit send and out it goes. Simple, and fast. No messing around with opening email or groups and typing up to each person individually. Other things such as Google + notifications can be replied to and +1'd from the notification bar as well, you can even see a posted photo from Google + be dragging down to expand for viewing outside the application. And in a new feature called Google radio which lets you listen to hundreds of your favorite stations, you can see what's playing inside the notification bar (which of course is nothing new you could always see this inside ICS and even gingerbread with music and apps like Pandora) and if you want to skip a track or a station you have the ability to do so without having to open the app. All the features of replying to posts, skipping music tracks and even sending out emails to groups all without having to open the applications to do so. This is a huge time saver. In addition to that, notifications from favorite news feeds such as pulse or Google Currents pop up into the notification bar and if the stories have attached photos or headlines, you can drag down to expand and view those additions to the notification and then swipe up to collapse them back out of view. Getting a preview of articles you might be interested in before you open the app and scroll through what's new and hot for the day.
- Search has not been forgotten here. Jelly bean also has a new and redesigned Google Search UI, and is going to be faster and more accurate. With the integration of the knowledge graph and Voice searches new and improved user experience, you can use search to ask it any multitude of questions you can think of. What you get in response is sometimes a series of information cards that list the answers in an easy to access content format all while having your answer spoken to you by an easy on the ears beautiful voice. What could be more pleasing when you want to ask a question you don't know the answer to? Google really is making a play to install the Star Trek computer into all of our lives. For example maybe you want to search for a favorite celebrity's birthday. (cause that's not creepy and stalkerish. Don't go using Google voice searches new powers to ask for addresses and send people weird gifts. They don't want them!) You can say "Google, what is Brad pits birthday? "or maybe you need directions to a great restaurant that was recommended to you. You can ask for directions and you will receive the information back to you through integration of web search content, maps directions and information cards on the screen. Pretty impressive. Take that Siri freaks!
This is just the tip of the ice berg for what has been coming out of today's key note speech. Keep your address bars tuned to android headlines.com for more information as there is still plenty more news from today and we will be continuing to cover all new stuff the next two days.