Google is rolling out an update to Jelly Bean for the Nexus 7. The new update, Android 4.1.2, adds a landscape launcher for the Nexus 7 in addition to various minor bug fixes and revisions. Jean-Baptiste Queru, Technical Lead, Android Open Source Project, Google, late last night revealed via the Android Building group that the update has also been released to the Android Open Source Project. Queru informed in his post that the 4.1.2 release is a minor update on top of Android 4.1.1, which was the final version of Jelly Bean. Reports in the media suggest that this is very likely a staggered update and won’t be available in all regions immediately.

The post and the changelog for the release reveals that the build number for the 4.1.2 release is JZO54K, and the tag for the AOSP build is android-4.1.2_r1.

The Jelly Bean update adds a landscape launcher to the Nexus 7 UI

The Jelly Bean update adds a landscape launcher to the Nexus 7 UI (Image Credit: EETimes)

There is no information when Google will release this update for other devices running Jelly Bean, but a quick look through the changelog reveals that some device specific changes have been made for the Motorola Xoom (including the Wi-Fi version), the Google Nexus S, and both the Google Galaxy Nexus and Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It’s just a matter of time until Google rolls out the update for these devices as well. Users of Jelly Bean devices made by other manufacturers such as the Galaxy S III or Galaxy Note II would have to wait for the respective OEMs to roll out the update.

In addition to other information, Queru reveals in the post that future variants of the Nexus 7 hardware will have a minor change in one of the components – the power management chip. He also states that the current version of Android 4.1.1, also named Jelly Bean, would not be compatible with the change in hardware as it “requires some bootloader and driver tweaks”.

Android 4.1 builds on top of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). This new OS makes everything smoother, faster and more fluid. Notifications are now more dynamic, allowing you to access and interact with the alert from the drop down menu itself without ever having to open the app. Another interesting feature is that voice typing is now faster, working even when one does not have a data connection. Google also states that they have re-designed 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.

Here are some of the key features that Android 4.1 Jelly Bean brings to the table:

  • With Jelly Bean, blind users can use 'Gesture Mode' to reliably navigate the UI using touch and swipe gestures in combination with speech output.
  • TalkBack, a screen reader for Android, now supports gestures to trigger actions, navigate applications, and traverse text.
  • Browser has improved performance, CPU and memory efficiency. With better performance for animations and HTML5 canvases and an updated JavaScript Engine (V8), pages load faster and feel smoother.
  • Browser now has better HTML5 video support, and has a new user experience. Just touch the video to play and pause, and smoothly transition into and out of fullscreen mode.
  • Calendar is more buttery. Content fades in, animations are sprinkled throughout, and swiping/paging between days is smoother.
  • You can now swipe from the camera viewfinder to quickly review photos you've taken without having to leave the camera app. You can swipe back to the camera viewfinder to start snapping photos again.
  • When taking a photo, a new animation sweeps your photo off the screen. There is now a new paging animation when swiping between photos.
  • You can now enter text in one of 18 new input languages, including Persian, Hindi and Thai. Additional Indic languages Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam are now supported by the platform.
  • You can use custom keyboard input styles for more than 20 languages, with keymaps for QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, Dvorak, Colemak, and PC styles.
  • Notifications from the same application are grouped together, and the first item is automatically expanded. You can also pinch notifications to expand or collapse them.

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