While most handsets around the world, including flagship devices from Samsung (Galaxy S3) and HTC (One X), are still waiting for the Android 4.1 upgrade, Google quietly launched the next version of their most widely used Mobile OS – Android 4.2, still called Jelly Bean. The fact that they chose to stick with the old name makes sense as it is more of an incremental upgrade rather than a complete revamp. Let’s get right into it.
If you have ever used Google street-view technology and wondered how Google does it, you have your answer. It allows you to click a large number of pictures on an imaginary plane, until you are satisfied and then magically stitches all the pictures into 1 file. You can navigate around the picture from many different angles and enjoy the interactive panaroma view. To end it all, you can upload the Photo Sphere on Google Maps (and of course, Google+) for your friends to see.
Alongside this, the camera app has been entirely revamped. All the icons that used to clutter the screen are gone and instead, there’s a new hold-swipe-menu gesture, which lets you open the different filters and settings available.
After the predictive keyboard of Android 4.1, the most proniment feature of SwiftkeyX app, Google goes another step ahead and includes Gesture typing. If you’ve ever used Swype or HTC Sense 4 series keyboard, you’ll have a very good idea of what is being talked about. The software does real time gesture recognition and collects all the user data to give the best recommendation. Combining all these features along with the auto-insertion of space, the enhanced dictionary and the offline voice typing makes Jelly Bean 4.2’s keyboard, one of the best available on the market.
A much anticipated feature for tablets, Android 4.2 allows multiple users to have their own settings, their own wallpaper, their own widgets and their own apps. In a nutshell, switching users is like switching the tablet altogether, even your game highscores are different! To make the process less cumbersome, it is not essential to login and logout everytime. Just switch the user and you’re good to go. This is only a tablet supported feature and not available on phones but no one’s complaining as phones are seldomly shared.
Much like the Airplay feature in iOS devices, Android 4.2 lets you can use wireless display. What you need – an HDMI supported television, a wireless display adapter (like Miracast), a phone/tablet running Android 4.2 and a wi-fi connection. What you can do – stream anything on your Android device (audio/video) on the television. Simple.
The fast and easy voice assistant from Android 4.1 adds new feathers to its cap. It now gives you even more “right information at just the right time”. You can now enable “Gmail cards” allowing Google Now to read through your mails and figure out information such as flights, hotels, restaurants, events and even track packages. Other noteworthy additions include movies, concerts, stocks and nearby attractions. What’s even more amazing? Devices running on 4.1 Jelly bean will also be given these new features, without any delay.
Keeping in line with the expandable feature, the notifications are now actionable as well. You can call back or snooze or reply to a message directly from the notification tray. The other new feature is the availability of “Quick settings”. An icon on top on the dropped down notification tray, will invert the screen and take you to a grid of “Quick settings” – like wi-fi, data connection, GPS etc. If you need it even quicker, use 2 fingers to pull down the tray and voila!
A fancy way to spice up your lock screen is by using Daydream, a new feature, which allows you to display your albums or your news feed from Google currents, right on your lock screen. A more functional feature is the inclusion of Lock-screen widgets – direct access to your calendar, mails, messages, clock etc without the need to unlock your mobile/tablet. Even though this feature was available on some manufacturer skins and certain google play apps, to include it in the stock version is certainly a step ahead.
Apart from these changes in the OS, the Gmail app and Google play will also get updated. Gmail will now finally support the much-awaited pinch to zoom feature. Google play will give you access to more music (from Warner Music group) and new magazines (from TIME inc.). Another free feature is called the Google match (very similar to iTunes Match which is $24.99/year) – which will match your song to the ones present on the Google Play cloud and make it available online on all your devices, without the boring uploading part.
Google releasing a new Android version only after 4 months of releasing Android 4.1 ( July) indicates their seriousness about Android development. The main question that still haunts their fans is when can they get a taste of this new yummy dessert by Google.