Google beefs up Android – Android 4.2 Jelly Bean introduces several new, innovative features
// October 30th, 2012 // Mobile
Google officially launched its Android 4.2 operating system today and released details on some exciting features that will debut on the LG Nexus 4 and the new Samsung Nexus 10-inch tablet, the first devices to run the new OS.
The notification panel will now feature a Quick Settings bar that allows users to easily toggle options like Wi-Fi and Airplane mode without having to navigate through the Settings panel. Users can access the new Quick Options by swiping down twice (like a panel within a panel) and/or by swiping with two fingers (a one-finger swipe brings down the normal notification panel).
A “digital personal assistant” also interacts with the Quick Settings panel allowing functions such as adjusting the brightness or toggling Bluetooth. And the notification panel now features expandable notifications which let you take actions directly from the notification screen itself rather than taking you into the application.
For tablets, Android 4.2 provides a multi-user function that allows multiple users to customize the tablet device to their personal preference by giving each user their own apps and data stores. They can tweak settings, install their own apps, etc. It will only be available for tablets though – not smartphone devices (which makes sense).
“Photo spheres” will allow users to use the device’s camera to snap pictures all around you and stitch them together to form one big 360 degree view. A Photo Sphere viewer is included that lets you move things around.
“Gesture typing” , similar to Swype or SwiftKey, allows typing by sliding your finger across the keyboard letters rather than punching each individual letter individually. The Gesture Typing system auto-predicts its best guess for the word you are creating and displays a list above your fingers for quick and easy selection.
Support for Miracast wireless displays is included. Miracast is an industry-standard Wi-Fi display sharing protocol. It provides streaming the Android 4.2 display and audio to any device (e.g. TV) that supports the Miracast protocol. Miracast TVs are expected to go on sale soon (LG will build Miracast into all of their television sets beginning in 2013).
“Daydream” mode is essentially a native screensaver that allows the user to configure stuff to be shown when the device is idle or locked. Items such as slideshows and news headlines can be added to the screensaver.
Android 4.2 now provides the ability to zoom in or on any part of the screen. You can triple-tap to magnify the entire screen and pan and zoom with two fingers.
Widgets are now supported on the lockscreen panel and multiple lockscreen panels can be configured. Users can swipe through the lockpanels without unlocking the phone.
Also, you can now swipe directly into the camera – a much needed improvement and one that has been available on several smartphone models (e.g. Droid).
Google Now improvements
Gmail has been added as a data source for Google Now which itself features a number of new cards including flight tracker, hotel and restaurant reservations, and move and music recommendations. Google Now, available on Jelly Bean devices, is a digital personal assistant.
Additional improvements include improvements to Gmail (e.g. pinch to zoom) and improvements to the Play Store.
The new Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 will roll out with Android 4.2 installed. The Nexus and Nexus 7 will receive the update soon thereafter.
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