It has been a little over a month now since Google made its big announcement about the newest flavour of Android. The search giant unveiled Android 4.1, codenamed as yet another sweet treat, Jelly Bean. Although the version number is only incrementally greater than the previous Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) and not a full-fledged version number improvement (we had expected it to be called Android 5.0), there are a few remarkable changes that one can look forward to. Google along with some partners have begun rolling out Jelly Bean updates. The lucky few who have managed to lay their hands on it can try these tips and tricks.
Launch 'Google Now'
When Google announced Jelly Bean, the new ‘Google Now’ was one of the most highlighted features. This unique feature has been designed to show you just the right information at the right time, be it weather, location, sports scores and so on. It negates all the digging otherwise required to get to a particular app for information, and presents it all in the form of cards. Jelly Bean users can quickly launch Google Now from the home page or while other apps are open too. Long press the main Home button on the home page and a white semicircle pops out with the Google logo printed on it. Now, just drag your finger towards the logo and it will instantly launch Google Now. The Google Now function can also be launched by pressing the Back button or the Apps Drawer button on the main page and then moving your finger towards the same semicircle and logo that appears on the screen.
While Jelly Bean retains the familiar slide-down notifications bar, it has added some cool improvements that make it even more convenient to use. Android’s notification bar is something many Apple fiends may envy. The quick alerts, all in one place, add ease and convenience. With the new Jelly Bean version, you will notice that it lets you expand a few notifications, offering a sort of preview, especially for email notifications. To get rid of any of the notifications simply swipe it sideways. What we really liked is the Share option that pops up in the notifications bar.
Call out ‘Google’
The popularity of Apple's Siri seemed to have compelled Google to start its own Project Majel, and the result is its own voice commands feature—Google Assistant. Google has been placing a lot of emphasis on its voice-based features lately, but didn’t make much hullabaloo about about it during the Jelly Bean launch. Nevertheless, the search giant has come up with some nifty support for voice-based functions. Whether in Google Now or while typing in Google Search, simply call out ‘Google’ and your command is recognized as a Google Voice Search command. So, if you say 'Google' out loud , the Voice Search option pops up instantly. We tried some voice commands such as pulling up maps of cities and voice dialling and after a little struggle with the accent; it worked quite well. However, you will notice a dearth of local Indian search results.
Face Unlock with a Blink
We know that Ice Cream Sandwich introduced a face unlock option, but Jelly Bean certainly improves this feature. Now, with Face Unlock, Jelly Bean users can enable a ‘liveness check’ option. This has been added to avoid security issues that could be caused because the original Face Unlock system could be fooled by static images such as a photo of the rightful owner. With the liveness check option, the owner doesn’t just have to hold up his/her face to unlock the device but also has to blink. If the software doesn’t detect a blink, it will take the user to the Pattern Unlock screen as a fallback.
Screenshot and security
Very simply, Jelly Bean comes with built-in screenshot functionality, something many Android fans have been waiting for. This ensures that the user doesn’t need to root the device or employ third-party apps just to take a photo of what's happening on screen. Taking a screenshot is simple, just press the volume down and power buttons together. The device will quickly take a snapshot of the screen and you will find it in your notifications. You then have options to edit, crop, delete, and share the photo. This makes sharing and even making changes to the captured screenshot much simpler than before.
Say it offline
Speech-to-text has been an underused Android feature for some time now. What might finally change that is the fact that you can now convert speech into text without a Wi-Fi or data connection. Yes, voice typing has gone offline with Jelly Bean, as the recognition can happen on the device itself rather than having to be uploaded to a remote server.
In Jelly Bean, widgets have become smarter. Google has given them some cool manners, as they can now automatically reposition themselves to make room for each other. You don’t have to manually move widgets to place another as they are now smart enough to move and make space. Try dragging an app icon from the main menu onto the homepage and you will see this in action.
Earlier, deleting an app would need one to long-press on the icon till it becomes editable and then manually drag it onto the ‘trash bin’ that appears on the upper side of the screen. However, Google has simplified it further. One only needs to fling it upwards and the app is deleted—it's as simple as that.
Its raining Jelly Beans!
If you want to indulge in some fun while using your newly upgraded device, then head straight to the Settings screen. Under Settings, click on About Phone and then tap on the Android version a few times. This will take you to a screen that displays one big Jelly Bean. Keep tapping it and more Jelly Beans will start flying across the screen. You can fling and swipe them around for fun. This doesn't really add any convenience or benefit to your usage, but it’s fun to try.
As part of Google's regular antics, it had introduced a “barrel roll” trick for desktop browsers. Type “do a barrel roll” as a search term, and Google would demonstrate the power of modern browsers by flipping everything around on your screen. The company is trying hard to show off its voice-enabled capabilities, so your Android device can also do a barrel roll if you speak out the same command. Again, this is of no practical benefit, but it's great fun to show off.
If you have any more tips and tricks to add to this list, do let us know in the comments section below.
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Nov 23, 2014