Prior to this year’s Google I/O conference, various reports had pointed out that Google was all set to unveil their next major Android update, Jelly Bean. Right on schedule at the conference, Google officially took the wraps off Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, a successor to their last year’s operating software Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating software appears to be a huge improvement over Ice Cream Sandwich and the first device that will be graced by the update is the recently announced Google Nexus 7, which is the brand’s flagship tablet that is manufactured by ASUS.

Spilling the beans

A whole bunch of new features available

Commenting on the latest operating system, Google states Jelly Bean builds on top of Ice Cream Sandwich. This OS makes everything smoother, faster and more fluid. They claim that notifications are now more dynamic. Elaborating on this feature, they state that if one is late for a meeting or missed a call, then they can send an e-mail or call directly from notifications. With Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google claims that the keyboard is smarter and more accurate, and can predict the user’s next word. Another interesting feature is that voice typing is faster, working even when one does not have a data connection.

Google state that they have redesigned search from the ground up in Jelly Bean, with a new user interface and faster, more natural Voice Search. They go on to state that one can type their query or simply ask Google a question. Google can speak back, delivering a precise answer, powered by the Knowledge Graph, if it knows one, in addition to a list of search results.

Google claims, “Today’s smart devices still rely on you to do pretty much everything—that is, until now. Google Now is a new feature that gets you just the right information at just the right time. It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work or your favorite team's score as they’re playing. There’s no digging required: cards appear at the moment you need them most.”

Here is a quick look at some of the highlighted features of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean:

  • Project Butter: Just as the name suggests, this feature aims to make the operating system on devices extremely smooth. As per a report by TechCrunch, they explain this feature by stating, “The Android team did so by bumping up Jelly Bean’s framerate to 60 FPS, and implemented vsync and triple buffering to tighten up the experience. Developers also have access to a new tool called systrace in the Jelly Bean SDK that displays what the rendering engine is up to.” At the Google I/O conference, Google showed off the difference in speed between Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean and the former pales in comparison.
  • Text Input: As mentioned earlier, with Jelly Bean, the keyboard is a lot faster and more accurate. The report by TechCrunch goes on to state, “Text input has also been improved, especially with regard to voice typing – users no longer need to have a solid network connection to make the feature work, as the speech interpretor lives directly on the device. The predictive keyboard is also able to guess at which word you intend to type out next. Only U.S. English will be supported for now. Arabic and Hebrew support has been improved as well, and they’re looking to add 18 new input languages.
  • Camera: Google have not left out the camera as well with the update and commenting on this a report by GSMArena states, “Jelly Bean brings new UI and gestures, so you can swipe sideways to access the gallery (yes, just like on the WP smartphones). You can then quickly delete images by swiping them off the screen.
  • Notifications: With Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the notifications bar has also received an upgrade and elaborating on this point and report by CNET states, “Jelly Bean though will push things further, supporting notifications that will allow complex actions and more ways to interact with alerts. For example, you'll be able to tap a missed call message and have the option to ring the caller back. Developers will also have the flexibility to craft custom notifications for their apps.
  • Android Beam: With Android Beam, one can now share videos via NFC, along with the ability to pair a Bluetooth device with NFC capabilities by merely tapping it.

The SDK of Android Jelly Bean is already available to developers from today and Google will begin dishing out Android 4.1 to devices, such as Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Motorola Xoom via over-the-air updates from mid-July.

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