Android 4.1 Jelly Bean features and release date official – what you need to know

June 27, 2012
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Google kicked off its Google I/O developer conference just a few minutes ago and it started the whole thing talking about Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, it’s next major mobile operating system refresh.

Google revealed on stage that over 400 million devices have been activated to date, 300 million since last year’s Google I/O event, and that it currently activates 1 million devices per day, up 600,000 units compared to Google I/0 2011 – or about “12 new Android devices every second of ever day.”

Before we take a look at the main features of the new OS version we’ll point out the fact that rumors were right, Jelly Bean does refer to Android 4.1 and not Android 5.0 as we would have expected. And while that version number may suggest we’re looking at a mild update rather than a full OS upgrade, you’ll certainly like what Google has prepared for you. Here are the main features and improvements of Jelly Bean.

Project Butter

With Jelly Bean, Google plans to offer users a more seamless UI experience by optimizing Android to better take advantage of the hardware resources available. “Project Butter” describes a series of improvements Jelly Bean will have to offer, compared to its predecessors. These include VSync, Tripple Buffering and Touch Responsiveness.

Jelly Bean now supports a much higher frame rate (60fps), which make screen animations move a lot smoother than before. Furthermore, Jelly Bean will make the hardware, including the processor and graphics processing unit work together (Triple Buffering) to offer a faster, improved experience across the board. The OS can now dial down the CPU when the handset is in standby, and wake it up again as soon as the user touches the screen. Moreover, part of the Touch Responsiveness improvements is touch predictability, as Jelly Bean will know where the user will touch the display next.

“Delightful Improvements”

Home Screen & Widgets

In Jelly Bean, users will be able to further customize the appearance of their home screens, and they’ll have a much easier job adding widgets to any screen. The widgets will adapt to the current layout of the display, and resize automatically to fit that area. In order to do away with a widget you’ll only have to swipe it upwards and “out of your phone” – this also works with apps and photos.

Text input

Google has refined and improved its text input options, and Jelly Bean supports regular touch-based typing, but also an improved voice-based typing alternative.

Jelly Bean now supports 18 extra languages, and the default keyboard is significantly upgraded compared to its predecessor. The stock keyboard will offer a better dictionary and predictive text support.

Without calling it Majel, Google’s rumored voice-based assistant project, the company did improve voice typing in Jelly Bean by making it available in both offline and online modes. The offline mode will certainly please Android fans that don’t have a great data plan or that have a shady data connection.

Accessibility

Google is making Android more accessible to various potential buyers, including blind users. Jelly Bean will offer voice- and gesture-based interactions that will let visually challenged people interact with the phone. Furthermore, Jelly Bean devices will be able to connect via Bluetooth to third-party Braille devices.

Camera

While ICS brought users updated Camera features, including a zero lag shutter, Jelly Bean is about to let the same users access their photo library a lot faster. The photo app offers a film strip view for faster scrolling, and images can be shared with family and friends with a simple tap. Deleting pictures is very simple, just swipe up to remove the unwanted shots. And just in case you delete something that shouldn’t have been removed, an Undo feature is available

Android Beam

In Jelly Bean, users will be able to do more things with the Android Beam feature that was launched with ICS. Google will let users share images and videos between NFC devices with just a simple tap, and NFC-ready handsets will be able to instantly pair with Bluetooth devices, again, by simply tapping them together.

Notifications

Google improved the user experience in Jelly Bean across the board, and that couldn’t be done without updating the Notifications app. The notifications are now “actionable, they expand and collapse and they’re customizable.” The new Notifications menu will now let you perform various app-related actions right from the notification of that particular app, without actually going into the app. That means you’ll be able to do more things with less clicks.

Notifications also come with pre-programmed quick responses which can be sent to chosen contacts in various instances, such as being late for meetings and similar time-sensitive daily matters.

And in case you want more pictures in your Notifications, you’ll be happy to hear that Google+ images are now available right in there, and they can be shared with friends from right inside the Notifications app.

Another neat visual trick is available in the Notifications menu, where users can swipe down with two fingers to extend it and access even more data.

Google Search

Since Google makes most of its cash from its advertising business, whether we’re talking about desktop or mobile browsing, we’re not surprised to see the company update the Google Search experience in Jelly Bean. And Google says that Google Search has been redesigned from the ground up in Jelly Bean. The new Search offers a new user interface, voice-based search and a Google Now feature.

The company is using “the power of Knowledge Graph” to understand what the user is looking for and display search results. Instead of plain old links and text, the company is providing a richer format – cards that include text and images.

When it comes to voice-based search – again Majel was not mentioned – the same Knowledge Graph is used to understand the query and deliver the appropriate responses. And from the looks of the voice search demo, it seems that Google is ready to offer a very impressive assistant-like overall experience in Jelly Bean.

In addition to the immediate answers that Google provides, no matter how you search for them, you’ll also be able to access all the other web results that match the keywords you have introduced.

Google Now

While interesting, this feature is not for those of you that value their privacy. In short, Jelly Bean phones will be able to actively help you based on your behavioral patterns, as long as you choose to share certain things about you with Google, including search history, calendar, Google Maps data and others.

Once you do that, your Jelly Bean phone will know where you’re going and how fast you’re getting there, it will be able to offer alternative routes and commuting information, commute duration, and it will even be able to calculate when to leave to get to your meetings in time. With Google Now you’ll automatically keep track of sporting events based on what teams you search for, get restaurant recommendations when you’re away from home and local information both at home but also if you’re traveling abroad, such as money exchange rate, language tips, weather info and the time at home.

Google Now also knows the status of your flight and/or travel plan and can help you make better use of your time by letting you know when flights get cancelled and/or delayed.

Google Now works with various pre-programmed information cards that deal with these various aspects of your mobile life, and Google says it will have more cards available in the future to deal with other instances in your life than the ones mentioned so far – commute, calendar, travel, flights, sports and restaurants.

As you can see, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean has three main features, Project Butter, “Delightful improvements” and a new Google Search experience. But when will it be available?

Release Date

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will be available as an over-the-air (OTA) update for Nexus-branded devices including the Nexus S and the Galaxy Nexus and the Motorola Xoom in July, while developers can already play with the Jelly Bean SDK today.

More importantly, Google wants its OEM partners to have early access to its upcoming OS versions well ahead of their releases, that’s why the company has announced a PDK for Android device makers.

PDK stands for Platform Development Kit and it contains all the details needed by these companies to have Android devices running the latest Android version in stores as soon as possible. PDKs will be available 2-3 months ahead of the launch of the next-gen Android version, which should help them launch smartphones and tablets running the latest Android version a lot faster, but also to update current devices to a future OS version in a more timely manner. The Jelly Bean PDK has been available to certain OEMs for a few weeks now, and it will be available to everyone else starting today.

Comments

  • AppleFUD

    Watching the keynote I realize that if Google hyped everything on stage to the degree apple does that it would have taken all day and then some just to get through the major features of Jelly Bean 4.1 — there are some serious major features coming and they covered them very quickly. Personally, I think Google needs to hype and market some of Android’s features a lot more.

    Overall 4.1 is pretty much what I expected. Did not expect offline voice-to-text — in many ways you can now use an Android device as WiFi only phone.

    The one thing, and I’ve said this many times, that competitors and Android OEMs, that think they can fork Android and do their own thing, don’t seem to get is just how massive Google’s back-end services are — no one else is going to come close to the information Knowledge-Graph can produce nor will they come close to Maps any time soon.

    However, they still have a ways to go especially in the productive side of things — hope they do something quick with their new office app.

    Overall, IMO, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean feels like a coming of age for Android. People said that a lot about ICS however, I feel Jelly Bean is really it — there’s a lot more integration of services, everything looks smoother & more polished to the point where it is becoming a very useful “assistant” in many ways.

  • vimal

    Coooool…..just waiting for jellybean on my gnex…

  • MasterMuffin

    cooooooolllll finally faster android Os, windows phone and iOs are so much faster and stable than ICS :(

    • AppleFUD

      Stable?

      don’t think so. there was a study done between ios & android and ios+apps crashed significantly more often than android+apps. . . you may be able to find the study online still. no one cared about wp7 at the time and apparently no one still does.

      • MasterMuffin

        yeah….. bullshit :D it’s true that iOs is more stable (but android is still better though) :)

        • AppleFUD

          OK. . . since you are too lazy to look it up yourself, here’s the proof that Android IS more stable than iOS. . . wasn’t hard to find either :p

          http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomiogeron/2012/02/02/does-ios-crash-more-than-android-a-data-dive/

          • MasterMuffin

            ok thanks for showing me the link :) BUT that’s just one test and they didn’t use every phone or every app and everything, I don’t speak english very well because I live in finland so I can’t explain but ask from the writers of android authority what they think of it, I just know because I havee sgs3 and 2 sgs 2 and a huawei ideos x 5 and 1 iphone 4s and 1 iphone 4 so…. and everyone (even those that know about this stuff) say that iOs and Wp os are more stable and faster so wow a long comment sorry for that and I’m going to sleep now cause it’s 1.00 am in the finland so if you answer to this I will be sleeping so I won’t answer to you in the next 10 hours but I WILL ANSWER :) that’s all :)

            ps. sorry for the long answer again :D

          • AppleFUD

            You are speaking about subjective experience Vs statistical data.

            I’ll trust the statistical data even if they didn’t test every single device with every single app.

            Just because someone says something, does NOT make it true. A lot of tech “journalists” said WebOS was the best — having used it extensively I can tell you it is not very good at all.

            Remember, often these “experts” don’t spend much time with a device other than their chosen platform, therefore, their experiences are highly subjective based on a few minutes reviewing a device and/or app.

            So. . . you can continue to believe whatever your “experts” tell you or think for yourself ;)

          • MasterMuffin

            ok that’s true, but statistical data isn’t always “right” if you know what I mean (as I already said, it was only 1 test). And it depends on what phone you’re using, there are so many android phones, some crash really often and lag (like the huawei ideos x5 that I have) and some are superfast and crash not so often (like my sgs3, which most of the time crashes because it’s so new phone that all apps can’t function in it). I wonder what phones they were using in that test.. Anyway real life experiense shows that in my situation iOs is more stable and faster just a little bit (it hasn’t crashed almost at all!) but I still prefer android (cause otherwise it’s better). I agree with you just little but in my situation the situation is this :) and I almost forgot about the wp Os, I personaly don’t have any windows phones but I have tested them and their REALLY smooth and fast (htc titan or what was it called and nokia lumia 900). I would like to see the statistics :)

          • Tech&Culture

            So I read the report and I don’t think stability of the OS is what can be taken away from it. “That makes sense since iOS 5 was still relatively new at that time and many apps still need to work out the kinks with the new OS.” If my program on Windows continually crashes it can be either Windows or my program that is the culprit, it all depends on why the crash is happening. All that report does is say that apps are crashing more on these OS versions verses others. To say that this report definitively says Android is more stable that iOS is like going outside while it’s raining one day and saying, “See, it’s raining here all the time.” In short, we need more data than simply this report to draw that conclusion.

  • pat

    Will it be coming to the samsung galaxy S3? Seems a but unfair for samsung to bring out a flagship android device without the latest update

    • AppleFUD

      it isn’t even released yet. it won’t be released till mid July. if Samsung waited till then to release the S3 you would probably be bitching about the wait for it.

      Seems like there’s a lot of apple shills floating around AA today acting like they are Android users.

    • summit1986

      So? The RAZR shipped without ICS, as did the Rezound. If you want to be the first to get updates, nut up and get a Nexus.

  • Simonb

    So my Nexus will get it about 2014 then as the frigging thing is still waiting for ICS 4.0.4. What a joke Aandroid is. Oh the nexus is so good it’ll be the first phone to get all the updates, well where the hell are they ? What a lie. Even Apple get there updates out on time. And before all the nerds start going on about doing it over the pc, why should I. It’s supposed to update without me making it.

    • ApppleFUD

      Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, Xoom, and some others, I forgot which, will be updated mid July. . . . but who knows. maybe they’ll hold off just to piss you off.

      You sound like an apple shill. . . . apple’s “upgrades” aren’t an upgrade by anything other than a number — all major features ONLY for the latest hardware, so sorry — every platform has its pros and cons.

    • MasterMuffin

      I hate it when there are apple fan boy comments in AA, if you think that android is a joke and you love apple and talk about how much better it is in ANDROID forum, YOU’RE a joke

    • Moonkae

      Umm, my Nexus recently got the 4.0.4 update OTA. Also, I’ve ran Jellybean on it as well. Go troll elsewhere.

    • gnexman

      get android system info, under the system, buikdinfos tap check the product version,. if its yakjuxw you will have to wait for samsung. if it says just yakju, you will get the update straight from google. you can change it if you like, just give it a google :)

    • gnexman

      get android system info, under the system, buildinfos tab check the product version. If it says yakjuxw you will have to wait for samsung to send out the update. However if it says just yakju, you should recieve the updates directly from google. It is possible to change it, just look it up on google. There are some great tutorials on how to do it out there :) hope this helps!

  • Stelios

    What’s the reason to discus on Android 4.1 when big companies like Samsung (and many other) have their “front” products still on 3.x versions.

    We like it or not… Android is still an open source “propriety” product.

    • AppleFUD

      WHAT????

      Their is NOTHING proprietary (I assume that’s what you meant to type) about Android — it is released as open source once it ships. You can say that Samsung (or another OEM’s) implementation (UI skin) is somewhat proprietary, or maybe parts of it are but the image is still released as open-source also.

      Bitching about the upgrades. . . yeah, OK. . . Android sucks there *if you did NOT buy a Nexus* but that has nothing to do with open source Vs proprietary. It has everything to do with carriers and OEMs.

      And seriously, that topic is so frickin’ dead. . . the dead horse has been kicked enough, move on.

      • Tech&Culture

        Perhaps a better statement would be that Android is a “controlled” open source product. While people can modify it pretty much as they please, Google still has final control over what the vanilla release is. To be honest, I don’t see that as a bad thing. While open source allows collaboration from potentially millions of talented developers, it can sometimes (perhaps even often) lack direction. Google can provide direction and on top of that they have “certifiable wunderkins” working there so that definitely helps the development. I’ve been a long time iOS (and others) user and I’m stoked for Jelly Bean.

        • AppleFUD

          “controlled development process of an open source project”

  • http://www.facebook.com/sbrence Sammy Brence

    I Highly doubt Nexus Toro Devices will see JB anytime soon. Maybe by the end of the year. But im not going to hold my Breath.

    • summit1986

      Unlock and root, my friend… You can run JB today if you want. It’s already out in the ecosystem.

  • Mark Brian

    i hope they fix the live wallpaper lag issue on gnex.. -_-