None knows how on earth does Google come up with really creative names. But we do know that regardless of the name Google off late has been doing some fantastic job on every new release on Android, when it comes to features, which leaves everyone else biting the dust. Just like ICS, Jelly Bean brings a breadth of new features.
Unlike Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean features a lot of improvements under the hood and not many major visible features on the surface at the word go. I’m listing eleven of my favorite new features:
1. Project Butter – Faster, Smoother UI
No matter if you own HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy Note, at one point of a time or the other there are high chances that you have always envied the UI smoothness of iOS and Windows Phone in particular. For much glee of Android users, Jelly Bean comes with significant changes to Android Graphics Stack called Project Butter. Jelly Bean achieves 60 fps throughout the interface by using triple buffering in the graphics pipeline making everything in the interface super smooth, be it scrolling or animations.
In simpler words — Triple Buffering is the technique used in many Graphics Drivers to force vsync to be always on to avoid jerky images and lag locking the frame rate (60 frames per second in most cases). It was long time since Google fixed the nuisances graphics experience of Android, and just by looking at the attention given to Project Butter, looks like they have finally fixed the lag issues once and for all.
2. Google Now
Before Google I/O, rumors were floating that Google might debut a Siri competitor dubbed as ‘Majel’. While some Android users were waiting anxiously, I hoped for the opposite as I feel that personal voice assistants like Siri are more or less useless for daily use.
Thankfully, Google went the other way and announced Google now, which is actually an enhancement to their voice search and commands. Google Now has a learning mechanism, which will learn your about your actions, search queries, location, calendar appointments, and more to assist you. It will proactively monitor the traffic of the route you commute, the best restaurant around you, public transit information, flights and even latest sport updates of your favorite team even before you ask for it.
It generates cards based relevant to your search queries. You just need to swipe to sift through all the information.
Tip: Google Now can be launched by swiping the home buttons upwards on Galaxy Nexus/
3. Offline Voice Typing
One major flaw with Google Voice typing has been the need to be always online just to be able to use it. This had two advantages — first, the whole process of connecting to the internet to transcribe voice into text took a few seconds. Second, it became useless without internet connectivity.
Knowing of this problem, Google has announced Offline Voice Typing to Jelly Bean. Right now only US English is supported with support for more languages to be added soon. From the demo, the voice recognition looked pretty impressive, though we will need to get our hands on a Jelly Bean device to look deeper into it.
If there is something which all other major mobile players snigger at Android , that will be unanimously the notification system. It has been one of the strongest features of Android and we all know how iOS 5 had borrowed the central ideas of Android notifications and dubbed its own notification center. Jelly Bean goes further ahead and brings a lot of improvements to the existing notifications system, bringing Expandable Notifications to the table. Now you can preview your unread messages, browse articles from Pulse app, +1 a link, share a photo Google+ without actually opening the corresponding app. You can expand and collapse the notification with a simple pinch.
5. App Encryption
Starting from Jelly Bean, every paid app will be encrypted with a device specific key before they are delivered. As you guessed this will combat App piracy, a prime reason why many big application developers are yet to develop for Android.
However, very less details are known about this feature. The foremost question that comes to my mind is what does Google mean by device specific key? Will apps be locked to a single device per Google account? We’ll have to wait to know more.
6. Reduced Audio Latency
Android has never been able to get love from musicians and iOS music app developers because of its high audio latency, which has remained over 100ms. A figure of 100ms seems insignificant but it is not. On a comparison note, audio latency in iOS is below 5ms. This problem on thwarts Android from competing with iOS with musical apps.
Thankfully, Jelly Bean solves this problem by bringing it down to 12ms. But, the Google isn’t yet satisfied about this figure and they’re trying to reduce it below 10ms, which will surely bring a lot of love to Android from music app developers.
Right now, this has only been achieved on Galaxy Nexus, but will follow on other devices as well after cooperation from driver vendors.
According to Wikipedia, Latency refers to a short period of delay (usually measured in milliseconds) between when an audio signal enters and when it emerges from a system.
7. Smart Updates
One of my favourite new additions, now for app updates you will not have to download the entire app all over again. Instead the users download only the portion of the app that has changed. The majority of the app updates affect only 1/3 of the application. This will result in a huge win for everybody, be it developers or end users as they will be downloading only the delta changes of the app.
One of the many little useful features introduced in Jelly Bean, now App icons and widgets can automatically arrange or resize to adjust themselves in a home-screen.
Based on where you drop them on the home screen, the icons will arrange automatically if there’s no more room. Also, widgets will resize automatically if there’s less room available on a home screen, which it will calculate based and the amount of room available on the screen. This means now when you slide your widgets around, the icons will rearrange automatically or the widget itself will resize if you move it to a new home screen.
9. Magazines and TV shows on Google Play
Google Play has added more content, letting you purchase TV Shows and Magazines straight from your android device. Also newly added is the ability to purchase movies, (earlier you could only rent them). Magazines are coming for 14 day trial basis for popular ones . TV Shows be it individual episodes or entire seasons can be now obtained on Google Play.
Apart from magazines and TV shows, the web interface of Google Play will now let users to uninstall and update your apps right from your browser.
10. Android Beam now uses Bluetooth for data transfers
Starting from Jelly Bean, Android Beam uses Bluetooth for data transfer when you use NFC. This means when tap two phones for Beam transfer, all the data transfer tasks will be handled by Bluetooth making it really easy to share images, videos and other data instantaneously.
11. Improved Accessibility for Blind Users: Brail Mapping
For blind people, iOS has always been their first choice over Android for its impressive accessibility features for them.
Finally, Jelly Bean will be bringing a complete set of API’s for developers for enhancing accessibility. One of the nicer parts being the addition of support for external brail input. Developers can handle gestures and focus as the user moves through the on-screen elements and navigation buttons using accessibility gestures, accessories, and other external input.