Android 4.1 Jelly Bean has just been officially launched, and it’ll start rolling out next month, July 2012. But what does it offer over Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich? Let’s take a look at its new features.
Strange name, excellent idea. Project Butter’s aim is to make Android run at a solid 60fps, complete with triple buffering and forced vsync. Basically, if it works as intended, Jelly Bean will run as slick as butter on a summer’s day in the Seychelles.
Butter also aims to improve touchscreen responsiveness, and how the system tracks your finger. It does this by predicting where your finger will be.
Project Butter is more about feel than features, though, and should hopefully get Android feeling as quick as iOS and Windows Phone.
Chrome has now been made the standard browser for Android 4.1 devices. It’s a significant upgrade to the inbuilt browser of both Honeycomb and ICS. Chrome is available for Android devices now if you want a taste.
A brand new feature, Google Now is best summed-up as a tool to help you organise what you’re doing at any point faster and more effectively. How? It’s based around a Siri-like voice recognisation system that’s equipped with information from your search history, calendar and location data to provide useful answers in seconds.
It’s accessed as a slide-up bar from the home screen (as opposed to the slide-down notifications system) that will provide some info without you even asking anything too – because it knows who you are. Creepy, right?
We can only really imagine using it to ask where the local Pizza Hut is mid-hangover, but if you think Siri is what’s really missing from Android, drop us a comment below.
The notifications system of Android has been given an overhaul. You can now select which apps have the right to splurge notifications your way. They’ll also be much more useful. Developers can now have a hand in how notifications behave, so you’ll be able to – for example – comment on a social networking message right from the notification itself.
Better Camera App
The integrated camera app has been given a tweak, although it relates much more to viewing photos than taking them. You can give the screen a quick swipe to view any photo just taken, and the pinch-to-zoom gesture turns the gallery into a film strip-style quick view for faster photo browsing – and deleting.
Beam has been a part of Android since Ice Cream Sandwich was introduced, but Jelly Bean sees it get some much-needed improvements. Beam is an NFC file sharing interface – which is rapidly becoming useful as more phones start to adopt the tech.
You can now hook-up with another NFC-enabled Android Beam phone much more easily. All it takes is a tap of the phone against the device, according to Google. Once hooked-up, information is now transferred over Bluetooth rather than NFC – because it’s a good deal faster.
We’ll admit that Beam isn’t a feature we’ve had much cause to use yet – when hardly anyone’s phone has NFC, and those that have it rarely know what it is – but we’re keen to check it out once more.
We review a lot of wireless speakers at TrustedReviews. And the most annoying part is getting the things setup. Android 4.1 wants to make it simple, letting you pair with Bluetooth speakers simply by tapping them – just like the NFC-powered Beam features. We’ll have to assume Android is able to extrapolate distance from the Bluetooth connection itself, because otherwise quite how this would work has us stumped.
Verdict – the best bit
You really have to try to make Project Butter seem all that exciting – it makes Android a little bit faster. But it’s the part that we think most people will appreciate most in the long run. What’s your favourite part?