If you have been following my Google I/O keynote live blog, then you should have known by now that Android 4.1 i.e Jelly Bean is officially announced.Even though it may not be a major shift as it was from Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich but still this marks an important improvement for the Android Ecosystem.
Google started with some numbers where it said 400 million activated Android devices, and one million activations per day. That’s up from the 100 million activated devices it announced at Google I/O last year, and 200 million it announced last fall, while the activations per day are up from the 900k it confirmed just earlier this month. This translates to about 12 devices activated every second, and it’s happy to note that things are “definitely not slowing down.”Google Play also has 600,000 apps now. The store is clearly hitting at a brisk pace in adoption, with 1.5 billion downloads every month and 20 billion since Android began. Free apps are available in 190 countries, with paid apps in 132 with a total of 30 billion app downloads.
If that wasn’t all,Google just announced that it’s adding support for the purchase of movies, as well as TV shows by episode or by season, and even magazines all available today. That’s in addition to the existing apps, movie rentals, music and books.Magazines like Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith and TV networks Disney / ABC, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures and Paramount were mentioned on stage.
One of the biggest features showcased by Hugo Barra was Project Butter, a complete new UI an effort to improve performance and response time. The whole system hums along at 60fps now on sufficiently fast hardware,it becomes glaringly visible the moment you run Jelly Bean next to an ICS device. Animations are much much smoother and quicker. The CPU immediately ramps up the moment a touch is detected to ensure speedy response.
Project Butter -
Lets the CPU and graphics run in parallel, rather than crash into each other, and has a big impact on both real and perceived speed.Graphics are now triple-buffered to keep scrolling and transitions humming along, and the processor will swing into full gear the moment you touch the screen to keep input lag to a minimum. Systrace, in the meantime, will help developers stamp out what performance hiccups remain. The tracing tool will be a part of the Jelly Bean SDK, so every coder can get an app running in tip-top shape.
Home Screen and UI Changes -
The home screen has also been tweaked, adding some cool features like dynamically resizing widgets, so you no longer have to place it, resize it then move it to where you want if there isn’t enough room. If there is room, but you app icons are scattered here and there then,the widget will automatically push them to the side. And, in a nice slick touch, apps and widgets can be removed by flicking them off the screen. Another thing I liked about Jelly Bean is the addition of Offline Voice input capabality.
There’s 18 new input languages including Persian and Hindi, although offline voice dictation is US English only for now. Also mentioned on stage are new audio cues for blind users, and support for Braille. Now you can tap the microphone and dictate a message even with the phone is in airplane mode and it will do what you just said to do.
The entire experience has been redesigned from the scratch with a fresher UI and a “faster, more natural” voice search ability. That refreshed interface borrows from the recently outed Knowledge Graph, displaying queries for weather, Wikipedia and restaurants in graphical card format. That same layout extends to voice search, now spoken by a much more human-sounding voice. You can also dismiss the cards with a simple swipe, exposing the full list of search results beneath.
Google Now -
Google Now, something new which was introduced is the new service with a brand new UI and will even respond to your queries in an impressively human sounding synthesized voice. This is like a time tracker with maps functionality.Google Now will automatically calculate the time required to reach a destination in different ways and will come up with detailed information with best time and the best possible route the time it takes if that route is taken or how much more time left etcetra.
Google Now is now smart enough to know when you’re at a bus stop and will tell you when your ride will arrive, or alert you to delays for your flights. It will even monitor your calendar and tell you when you’ll need to leave your location to make your next appointment. In short, Google knows all. Welcome to your extremely convenient and extremely spying future.
Smart App -
No need to download the apk again from Google Play store whenever an small update is released by the developer.This will help developers provide incremental updates to apps instead of forcing people to download a whole new APK for every minor update.What’s more, the company has also announced that it’s bringing added encryption measures to Android, which will let paid apps be encrypted with a device-specific key that makes them harder to rip and share. Both features will supported on Android devices running Gingerbread or above.So bye bye to downloading apks from unofficial sources.
Google Cloud Messaging -
Next we saw Google mentioning about Google Cloud messaging for developers to interact with more flexibility.Google Offline maps functionality was the one I liked.So need of your data connection or GPS to show you the route.
Notification System -
One more significant feature was with the notification system.Alerts dynamically expand and shrink as they roll in, and canned responses are even integrated. When an MMS pops up you get a preview of the image and can even view full size without leaving the notification area. You can even +1 Google+ notifications and images from same UI. Basically Google has combined its top notch notification system with a interactive, unified inbox.Foursquare and Pulse notifications was demostrated in the keynote.
Updated Camera -
Camera app which was already a highlight of ICS, has gotten even better in 4.1. Now, the gallery is slickly integrated, allowing you to quickly pull up the photo you just took with a swipe to the left. You can keep swiping through your images or even pinch to zoom out and view all your images in a filmstrip view.
Deleting images is as simple as swiping a pic off the screen and, if you’ve manage to accidentally remove one, a quick tap of the undo button restores it. And, speaking of images, you can now share them and video using Android Beam, and Android now supports pairing with Bluetooth devices with the assistance of NFC.So as we saw in the keynote the sharing was done as fast as in 1 sec.Other updates in NFC was Android Beam enhancements and a new tap-to-air feature for Bluetooth speakers.
Jelly Bean will be rolling out to Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S and Moto Xoom devices in mid July as a OTA(Over the Air update), along with the open source code. Developers though, can start playing with the Jelly Bean SDK today.
Check out more at the Android Jelly Bean Website.