Thursday, June 28, 2012

Android Jellybean 4.1 = DA BOMB

There was  this little event called Google I/O yesterday, and boy did it shock the non-Apple worshipping portion of the tech world. Here is a list of what Google announced yesterday:

1) Android 4.1 Jellybean
2) Nexus Q, a globular shaped media player
3) Nexus 7 Tablet
4) Upgrade to core Google apps such as Google+, YouTube, Maps, Earth and of course, Play Store itself
5) Availability of movies, TV programs, and books on the Play Store

Whew. Today I am going to cover the most important one: Jellybean.

Who'da thunk it? Just six months after unleashing Android 4.0 ICS on to the world, Google are back with 4.1 (Jellybean). I will call it JB for short. Here are the key changes/enhancements:

1) Project Butter. Google's new technique of accelerating the phone operations, so that most tasks are butter smooth, without any lag. ICS was already fast enough, but JB brings iPhone-quality smoothness to the experience. It has to be seen to be believed. Check out the video down below.

2) Changes to the notification bar, which will now display more content than ever before. Also, more importantly, developers have been given a free hand as to how they want their app to use the bar, which means we will see a lot more functionality.

3) Google Now, the new voice-based search app. While the jury is still out on the whole voice thing, this app tops both Apple's Siri and Samsung's S Voice in terms of effectiveness.

4) Voice dictation without requiring a data connection. Now this is revolutionary - you can dictate text without internet involvement, meaning that the process will be faster. Again, I haven't yet tested this feature but is amazingly promising.

5) Maps can now be saved on the phone's memory. This is also a biggie. It means you can pre-cache map data on your device before going out, and navigate happily without using data.

Here are TWO videos detailing all these features.

There are other features too, but I will cover them in detail later. The most amazing aspect of JB is that it is already available! The official update for the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S sets is set to roll out mid-July, but enterprising devs have already ripped the OS out of the Galaxy Nexus sets being distributed on the I/O event and made the code public. The result is that virtually anyone with a Galaxy Nexus can now flash JB on their phones in one way or the other thanks to custom ROMs.

I believe that with these features, Google have given Android an invincible feature set for 2012 and it is enough to beat anything by Apple. Crucially, via Project Butter, they have addressed the occasional lack of visual slickness and also made the system far more usable.

This also serves to justify my opinion that the Galaxy Nexus is the best mobile phone available right now. Yes, there is S3 and there is Note, but it can be safely said that they will get the update in weeks if not months.

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