While this might turn to be a slight disappointment for us Android fans who were longing for a full feature upgrade and a new name for the next version of Android, Google seems to be quite fond of “Jelly Bean”. Finally after hordes of rumours and speculations, we finally have LG Nexus 4 and Samsung Nexus 10 shipping with Android 4.2 “a new flavor of Jelly Bean”. Here is a very quick run up to the major new features.
To begin with, Jelly Bean 4.2 ships with a completely new camera UI which is specially designed to aide in one handed operations. The crux here is the introduction of new panorama feature which clearly is trumps the iOS panorama by the looks of it. Unlike Panorama where you can only get a 180-degree view, you can do a full 360-degree in Photo Spheres and even view them in 3D! The Google “Kool-Aid” is that you can share your photo spheres to add street view data to Google Maps. Intelligent crowdsourcing while being a supercool feature ain’t it?
Gesture typing on the Keyboard
Now clearly both Swype and SwiftKey are not going to be too glad at this, but this is a relief for all Android enthusiasts. Now we have the convenience of Swype like gesture typing as well as SwiftKey styled word predictions in the stock keyboard! This is definitely going to be a great typing experience and takes Android light years ahead of any competition in this department.
Google Now got a whole lot smarter
Google Now can now use Gmail as a data source for new cards. This includes improved flight tracker, hotel and restaurant reservations, movie and music recommendations. Also, Photo Spot card recommends interesting places to take photos based on your location
MiraCast support for Wireless HDTV sharing
Android 4.2 adds support for MiraCast wireless display sharing, which lets you mirror your phone’s screen to any TV that supports MiraCast.
For those who’re unaware, Miracast is an upcoming standard for wireless displays created by the Wi-Fi Alliance and is based on Wi-Fi Direct. While the list of TVs available in the market that support this standard is pretty much empty, companies such as LG and Samsung have agreed to support Miracast in most of their TVs starting from now. Although Miracast is yet to mainstream as compared to Apple’s awesome AirPlay, Android will surely enjoy a wider support after a year or two.
Big improvements to Accessibility
Back in the Ubuntu desktop, I always enjoyed the privilege of simple Super + scroll key combination to zoom the desktop anytime I wanted. Since I got my hands on the Xolo, I always wanted some sort of screen magnification without completely changing the font. Finally looks like Google has listened to my prayers in Android 4.2. Now you can simply do a triple-tap to magnify the entire screen and pan and zoom with two fingers. Blind users also get some usability improvements with Speech output and Gesture Mode
Automatic text reflow in Gmail
This seems petty , but it always gets on my nerves when I have to manually pan and zoom my mails in GMail, while iPhone users had the privilege of automatic text reflow. Finally with Android 4.2 , we droid users to get this privilege.
Multiple User Support
As rumored, it is official that Jelly Bean 4.2 brings in multiple account support. This surely will take a lot of pain out of many dads’ necks who would else spend time in removing/hiding unwanted NSFW stuff from their kids. A great step actually to make a device useful for the entire family.
It is interesting to note that the Amazon had earlier announced the same feature for its Kindle Fire HD as well
While details remain woefully sparse over this one, Daydream screensavers will let your phone / tablet display images from your albums , news from Google Currents and more when your device is idle or docked. But I am sure phone users will rather be scorning at this one if it turns out to be a battery hog though.
Expandable notifications and Quick Settings
Android always had the privilege of having by far the best notification system around and the latest update makes sure no other mobile OS can even come closer to it. Android 4.2 introduces quick settings which let you changing various device options just by swiping down with two fingers. Notifications on Android on the other hand get even better with expandable, actionable notifications.
Widgets in the Lock Screen
Lastly, Jelly Bean 4.2 lets you add widgets to your lock screen. Also now you can swipe directly from the lock screen to the camera. This implementation must be used hands-on to talk much about though.
The latest iteration of Android is rather incremental than being explosive on features and that is a good thing for users. While a bigger question that looms with still a lot of users running GingerBread and ICS is if at all are majority of the Android users every get the test of the new flavor of Jelly Bean before its dated.