Inside the New Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is the latest version of Google’s mobile platform. It offers shorter lag times, voice-operated search, and an intelligent search history, as well as other detailed improvements in the search tray, gestures, and keyboard.
In one of the most surprising updates, the new Android operating system offers a more optimized experience, virtually eliminating all lag-time afflicting the previous iteration, Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0. Project Butter is the recent effort to minimize lag time, which has long plagued Android devices. Though the visual experience is essentially the same, performance is much faster, as animations, interactions, and touch responses are all vastly improved. Every built-in app opens snappily. Reviewers of the new system across the board were shocked at the scope of improvements from the Project Butter initiative.
The feature everyone’s been anticipating the most has to be Google Now; the intelligent system that cross-references search engine data with location and calendar history. Although it could be the biggest intrusion on personal security, most reviewers say the benefits of Google Now far outweigh the potential downsides – a company that knows virtually everything about you. In exchange for their data, Android users get pop-up notifications of suggested restaurants, routes, sports stats, or basically any information Google deems they might want to know. Unless you live in an urban area where real-time data on public transit systems and nearby cafes is available, you probably won’t use Google Now as much as Google hopes.
Google Voice Search
In a major stride past Apple’s golden child of last fall, Siri, Google Voice Search uses the mouthpiece as a virtual search engine. The voice platform on Android understands significantly more than Apple’s Siri, offering Google search results in rapid response to any question. The voice that speaks back to you is also pleasantly soft and nearly human-sounding. Reviewers were overall very satisfied, even surprised, at the helpfulness of the new voice-activated search assistant.
A more expansive dictionary in the update improves spelling prediction and word correction for text input. Google Maps, formerly inaccessible without data coverage, will now work offline. This allows you to access the map anytime, even if there’s no cellular connection. Android design guru Matias Duarte apparently had a lot to say in the Jelly Bean development room, as his aesthetically-tuned brain opted for a more intuitive experience with Android gestures. Additionally, the notifications tray is much less cluttered, and you can use touch navigation to expand or mute a certain notification. Finally, the keyboard now offers a button feature for switching languages that is more efficient than the previous feature of awkwardly sliding the spacebar