Android 4.1: Buttering the Jelly Beans
This month has been quite eventful. iOS 6, Windows Phone 8 and now Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). While we have already taken a look at iOS 6 and WP8, it’s now time to see what Google’s latest software upgrade brings to the table.
New BootScreen Animation
Jelly brings a new bootscreen animation with it. Subtle changes here and there.
The lockscreen sadly remains pretty bland. A dotted pattern appears when you sweep the lock. Hardly worth any consideration. It is sad because the lockscreen can be used far far more effectively, as we have seen with many other custom Android Skins/Launchers.
Jelly beans, mmm tasty!
Perhaps one of the most significant changes with Android 4.1 is Project Butter. Put simply, Google finally realised people hate laggy interfaces and decided to make it right. Well it’s about time Google. And the result, well it’s fantastic!
Project Butter has literally buttered the interface, making it smooth as jelly. Android users lucky enough to get this new OS (in the next couple of months) would simply love the new found smoothness in a Droid, for a change. It seems Windows Phone’s extremely slick UI has gotten to Google finally.
To get such a smooth UI, Google makes Jelly Bean’s UI run at a fast 60fps. On top of that, triple buffering (letting the CPU and GPU work seamlessly without having to wait for each other) as well as a new feature called Touch responsiveness (predicting your next touch) all in all leads to a “Goodbye stuttering!” for good.
Google actually used a very high speed RED camera to record their amazing improvements. A little overboard as we can already clearly see, but nice of Google to prove a point.
The Amped Notification Center
The Notification center has gotten visibly smarter. Select apps offer more than a preview, but options to directly make changes or interact with the app right from the notifications panel itself. Not only that, Google+ photos as well as new messages can be read right from the notifications panel. You ca snooze an alarm, or probably email a reminder right from this new drop-down powerhouse.
You have to admit, the new notifications center not only looks lively, but beautiful. It’s become a whole new thing altogether. It is lovely to see such changes.
Did I mention? Answer or Ignore calls right from the panel itself!
It was pretty much obvious that Google come up with it’s own Siri competitor, and Google Now is that and much more. Put simply, Google’s AI learns continuously about you from your daily routines. Yeah I know that’s creepy stalker-ish behaviour right? But in this case, this virtual stalker (quite literally) can be quite helpful from time to time. For instance, since Google Now will obviously find out where you stay and where you go for work (I know, I’m not helping with the stalker case) it will help you avoid traffic jams by simply re-routing you whenever there is one. Can be a life saviour in case you got an urgent meeting, what say you?
Google Now plays with cards. All it learns about you, it puts them in cards and displays them to you. I’m not talking about displaying your personality, but your habits. Say of checking the weather, or the next match of your favorite team with timings and everything, all by picking up your search history. It then displays them in cards, making it easy for you too access all the info without having to do the searching again. Sweet!
Google Voice Search
Search = Google. Now add voice to it and you have another irresistible feature. Google’s Voice feature is not trying to be a Siri, it aims to be her daddy. And we must say, it is quite far succeeding in this venture. You can interact with Voice in day-to-day language (no, I don’t mean abuses) such as “how tall is the Eiffel Tower” and voila! You have a card with all the details. Not only that, Voice reads out everything to you. So you can sit back and relax because you won’t have to even read anything off the screen.
Self-aware resizeable widgets
App widgets on the homescreens now automatically adjust their size with new entrants to the homescreen providing comfortable accommodation for all.
HD Photo Contacts
Photo contacts were earlier a painfully low 96×96. But Jelly Bean bumps it up to 720×720, bringing in much needed clarity to a pic shown on a big high-resolution display.
Courtesy of photo, gsmarena. They like their Jessica, and so do we!
Offline Voice Typing
As simple as the title states, Google has baked the algorithms of Voice typing into the OS itself. This makes the feature faster, more efficient as well as removing the requirement of an internet connection to use it.
Google Maps goes Offline
Offline maps is nothing new. Nokia maps has this feature for quite some time already. But it’s a nice move on Google’s part to step up and offer the same. Now, people living in a particular city can pre-cache the map so that they don’t have to download it every time they open maps.
An old feature really, from ICS. It has been updated allowing to share more easily. NFC now pairs over bluetooth to exchange media or with speakers or other compatible devices. Since every Android device has bluetooth connectivity, this is pretty much a handy feature to have.
Ever use SwiftKey? A fan? Well now Android’s default tablet takes that, and improves on it as well. The dictionary is like Swiftkey itself, and at first glance the feature seems a pretty good one to integrate into the OS. But Google in effect have rendered Swiftkey, the app useless with this new addition.
Google made sure it brings enough to the table to woo its fans, especially after them having been subject to iOS 6 and WP8 awesomeness. It’s nice to see such competition leading to evolution of mobile operating systems at a rate desktops never witnessed (not in recent times at least). However, android’s biggest hurdle remains. It is yet to be seen how many handsets will actually get this new OS, and if they do will they be in time for iOS 6 and WP8, or 8 months late like ICS.
Only time will tell…
Preetam Nath actively follows mobile technology. He has been following computer hardware keenly since 2007, only to start digging more into mobiles ever since the smartphone revolution. Studying his Engineering at MIT Manipal, Preetam devotes most of his time to update himself with the latest happenings in the technology sphere.
1 July, 2012