Google: Android Jelly Bean 4.1 Is Like “Butter”
Google’s latest dessert offering? Android Jelly Bean 4.1, part of “Project Butter,” formally unveiled by Google director of product management Hugo Barra during the Google I/O keynote this morning.
The update was widely expected, after the beans were literally spilled on the Google campus yesterday.
The software developer kit is being made available to Android app developers today. The OS is expected to hit select devices, such as the Galaxy Nexus and Motorola Xoom, starting in mid-July.
For those who don’t speak the Google geek language (like “Triple buffering and VSync will apply across the system and all applications …”), here’s a simple breakdown of what you need to know about the updated OS:
Text and Speech Input:
Android devices have a nifty feature called Swype that allows users to drag their fingers from key to key to draw up a word. Now, Jelly Bean is boasting an improved algorithm that guesses which word you’ll type next and allows for faster touchpad typing.
Also key: Google says it has shrunk its voice-recognition software to build it directly into the phone and allow for offline speech-to-text dictation. So even when you’re not connected, you can type full notes or emails using the VR technology.
Google is utilizing near field communication technology — until now used primarily in its Google Wallet application for mobile payments — to improve the picture-taking and sharing experience. You can send someone a photo or video by just tapping your phones together. And you can pair your Android phone with a device, like a speaker, by just tapping the phone against it.
Jelly Bean notifications are supposed to show more information, expand and collapse, and are more customizable. For example, if a calendar notification pops up and you’re running late to a meeting, you can email everyone in the meeting directly from the notification and let them know if you’re running late, with a set of predetermined responses.
Also, there’s more seamless integration with other apps — for example, the ability to comment on a friend’s Foursquare check-in without having to open up that app.
A new feature called Google Now shows search results in a “new, richer way.” Searches show you more relevant information and shortcuts to maps, if you’re searching for a specific location.
“Who is the prime minister of Japan?” a Google product manager, Randall Sarafa, asked into an Android device in a demo. A female voice promptly responded with the correct answer. (Take that, Siri …)
Location Services and Favorites:
Jelly Bean 4.1’s enhanced notification services will now show you places of interest as you walk down the street, and can offer recommendations on what to order if you, say, pass a restaurant. In terms of travel, Google will update you on flight times in real time as you’re walking through an airport terminal.
It will also update you on sports scores based on teams you’ve search for in the past.
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