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Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Review

Posted: , by Victor H.

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Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Review
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean has finally started arriving on Samsung Galaxy Nexus devices in the last couple of days, and after we’ve spent just enough time to get used to the update, we can now say that we’re left very impressed with what Google has done to Android. Here’s why.

Jelly Bean is not the most prolific update Android has seen, but it patches just the right places, and takes the experience up a notch.

Project Butter

First and foremost comes Project Butter, Google’s radical approach to exterminating lag on Android devices.

We remember the first time we got a dual-core phone in our hands last year. The handset was the LG Optimus 2X, which didn’t make much of a splash eventually, but the true shock was that even with a dual-core processor it was laggy. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but choppy frame rates when opening the app drawer and a couple of seconds to open even the most basic app like the dialer were definitely not our idea of top notch performance. Things have been improving slowly but surely since then, but even now with quad-core chips on phones, Android still lags here and there.

Good news is that this is largely put an end to in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Project Butter makes almost every one of the built-in apps tick and open extremely snappily. We’ve been using the Galaxy Nexus as our daily driver for quite a while, and after the update we were shocked at the increase in speed and smoothness. Actually, often times the 8-month old G Nexus would beat the Samsung Galaxy S III, that’s how much of a difference JB makes.

Google Now

We know you’re all curious about Google Now, and deservedly so. Google Now is basically an intelligent system that taps into your search history, calendar and locations to learn more about you and your lifestyle - where you work, eat, sleep. You access it by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. It might scare those who are frantic about security, but in exchange for your data, you get information relevant to your location and time automatically pop up on your screen.

Leaving home for work? A card would pop up with driving directions. Passing by a restaurant you looked up earlier? A card would pop up with the place and its menu. Your favorite team played yesterday? The phone will automatically give you a card with the score and highlights.

Best of all is that all that action happens without you setting up anything - completely automatic. Moreover, Google Now learns from your everyday routine and will guess what you want to do depending on the day and give you the relevant information in a card. Cards are basically just neatly formatted snippets of information. Right now, Google Now gives you cards with information about weather, traffic, appointments, transit information, flights, sports, places, translation and currency.

All of this is good and works well, especially in dense urban areas, but we feel Google Now is a good start to a future intelligent assistant, a system that will have a lot more information about you, a promise for tomorrow rather than today.

Google Voice Search

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean also introduces an improved Google Voice Search that now makes full use of Google’s knowledge graph. Also, it understands you extremely well and often times speaks back to you in a shockingly natural and smooth voice. We liked Siri for what it promised to do - bring intelligent voice input to mobile phones, but Siri can only learn from Google’s Voice Search.

The voice platform on Android is dramatically faster and more accurate, saving you tons of frustration. When it knows the answer from the Knowledge Graph, a neatly formatted white card will summarize it, and if not it will just search Google. Overall, we were very pleased with the search and happy to see it works in 21 different languages.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Review
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Review
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Review
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Review

Lots of small other improvements

There are tons of other small improvements to the system that show Google’s work on detail in Jelly Bean. Android head designer Matias Duarte has left his mark and you could definitely see some ideas from webOS with its brilliant gestures arrive on Android.

If we had to point out a single favorite vector of improvement in Android that would be exactly gestures. Now, they are baked into the gallery app where you flick images up to delete them (very useful when you snap tens of images with burst mode shot), into the notifications tray where you can preview emails by pinching in, into Chrome where you slide from the side to switch tabs and so on.

The notifications tray is one thing Google is really improving recently. In Jelly Bean, the dropdown window is less cluttered. Now, you can pinch in to expand a certain notification or long hold a notification to go into the app where it comes from and mute all messages from that app if it’s bugging you.

We love the keyboard in ICS and in Jelly Bean it’s even better. One thing we really like is the iOS-like globe button for quickly changing of languages, so you don’t have to somewhat weirdly slide the space bar. Google is also bringing better dictionaries and predictions, for those who use them.

Finally, the interface has changed just a little bit with more whites contrasting in the lock screen and a brighter Google search bar to contrast the neon colors of ICS. Jelly Bean brings resizable widgets, so it’s easier to arrange widgets across your home screen. Boot up time is also noticeably faster in Android 4.1.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Review
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Review
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Review
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Review


Android 4.1 Jelly Bean would have been huge even if only for Project Butter. We were pleasantly surprised how much faster and smoother Android got on our Galaxy Nexus after the update. Google Voice Search is also a huge deal for drivers and those using voice more often - it’s extremely accurate and mind-bogglingly quick.

Google Now is a very interesting attempt to leverage that huge amount of data we feed into our computers every day. We felt it was more of an interesting experiment for the moment, though - something we’d love to see in products like Google’s Project Glass and in future technology.

Jelly Bean is a jump rather than a small step for Android. Question is how big of a jump and that’s debatable. In our opinion, Project Butter makes the platform so smooth we’d rather be using a Galaxy Nexus that’s starting to show its age with Jelly Bean rather than any other brand new phone at the moment, even the Galaxy S III. And that’s telling, isn’t it?

  • Options

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 10:05 5

3. Tjey007 (Posts: 86; Member since: 22 May 2012)

cant wait to get on my S3.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 10:12 9

6. lascoul (Posts: 2; Member since: 24 May 2012)

Experience the use in my very old galaxy s. I can confirm that project butter is a winner

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 10:21 4

8. pokharkarsaga (Posts: 384; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)

phonearena, i want to see comparison between WP8 and android 4.1 regarding project butter with same hardware on both devices.then only i will certify android as a winner in project butter.lets see who's fast and fluid...........

posted on 18 Jul 2012, 10:20

107. kanagadeepan (Posts: 922; Member since: 24 Jan 2012)

Compare when WP becomes TRUE-multi tasking OS and NOT fake one like now...

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 10:39 2

14. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)


posted on 16 Jul 2012, 10:47 3

16. KineticArc (Posts: 11; Member since: 29 Jun 2011)

Has Project Butter improved the horrid frame rates when a live wallpaper is being used? I leave live wallpapers turned off on my Galaxy Nexus for a reason. Surely vsync and triple buffering means we can have a consistent 60fps whether or not live wallpapers are enabled?

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 11:32 5

21. iamcc (Posts: 1319; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)

Something I have noticed about live wallpapers is that it's more about the wallpaper than anything.

I will say that most live wallpapers still show stutter when swiping across home screens or opening the app drawer. What's interesting to me is the one live wallpaper I have that actually let's me "adjust" FPS will run perfectly smooth if I set it to 100 FPS when by default it's set at 50 or so..

I'm wondering how many live wallpapers have poorly written code (or whatever) that makes it stutter regardless of how good the hardware is.

posted on 17 Jul 2012, 06:06 2

99. jroc74 (Posts: 6005; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

Which is one reason I just use Live Wallpapers for show n tell. Like wallpapers on desktops have issues, so I knew it was gonna have issues on phones.

posted on 17 Jul 2012, 18:55 1

105. jroc74 (Posts: 6005; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

I meant Live wallpapers on desktops have issues.

posted on 18 Jul 2012, 02:51 1

106. Luuthian (Posts: 246; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)

It has. This problem was fixed by a number of custom ROMs, but Project butter makes it official.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 10:59 1

17. thedarkside (Posts: 652; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

project butter, i choose you!

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 11:30 1

19. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

I'd rather take S III or even S II than nexus. JB is not such a huge step forward to sacrifice a better hardware.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 12:36 3

26. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

the OMAP4460 is really not that far a cry from the Exynos 4210 and it adds LTE support so i'd say the Nexus is better than the SII but as far as the Nexus vs. the SIII the buying decision is obvious but should somebody go from a Nexus to an SIII? i don't think so.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 14:02 2

37. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

If your comfortable enough with root and like AOSP / AOKP roms, I'd go with the SGS3 when there is a 100% stable 4.1 ROM available. If they can keep the Samsung camera driver/app working on the ROM that would be a huge + over the stock app.. which is still one of stock's weak points.

If you want stock without all the mess, my recommendation is to wait another month or 2 and see what the next Nexus rumors will bring. If it comes around november, there is a pretty decent chance it will boast an A15 chip of some sort and at least an 8mpx camera (with better optics damnit!).. both would be a very substantial upgrade to the current nexus.

But hey, if you want a great phone for cheap, the unlocked GSM nexus cant be beat. $350 brand new and unlocked gets you all the latest apps all the time. Sooner or later though, the SGS3 will get the official 4.1 upgrade if you dont mind waiting. then you get the software AND hardware thats 3-4x as powerful as the nexus. But you will be paying the premium for that.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 11:33 2

22. threeline (Posts: 267; Member since: 11 Sep 2011)

When will the Spint GNex get JB 4.1?

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 13:10 6

29. EclipseGSX (Posts: 1717; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)

Right now if you're rooted :D

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 12:30

25. thunderising (Posts: 232; Member since: 25 Nov 2011)

Hope this actually makes it to handsets man!

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 12:37 3

27. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

looking forward to getting it n my Razr! ;D

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 13:40 1

33. nnaatthhaannx2 (Posts: 820; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)

Me too.
Can you help me root my razr?
I'm a little nooby, but will it clear my data?

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 13:41

34. iamcc (Posts: 1319; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)

I do not think that rooting the RAZR will clear your data in the sense that your pictures etc are stored on your SD card.

You will most likely lose all app data as far as text messages, saved games, etc. There is generally a way to back all of this up.

If you are interested in rooting your RAZR I would recommend starting at

www.rootzwiki.com or simply "Googling" "Droid RAZR root".

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 15:06

40. nnaatthhaannx2 (Posts: 820; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)

I know how to Google bud. It's just that the instructions are not clear for me and most of the fourms are more advanced.
I was asking KingKurogiii... not trying to be rude or anything but thanks for the help. :)

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 13:51

36. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

you won't lose anything for just rooting.
download Mattlgroff's Droid Razr Utility 1.81 on your Mac or PC and run it with your phone plugged in. there should be an option to make it run a script that'll root your Razr.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 15:05

39. nnaatthhaannx2 (Posts: 820; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)

Anything AT ALL?
Because ^^ said i will.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 16:54

58. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

no, you won't lose a thing. I don't know why he said that. maybe he thinks you're preparing to flash a ROM and in that case you WOULD lose things. after rooting you need to get Titanium Backup and Voodoo OTA Root Keeper. the former to make backups and freeze apps and the ladder to quickly restore your root permissions after flashing a new ROM.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 16:13

48. nnaatthhaannx2 (Posts: 820; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)

Gotcha, and is there any reason to use a different method?

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 16:56

59. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

that's just the easiest method I can think of and Mattlgroff really packs some useful things into his Utilities and he updates often so it's good to have anyway.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 15:40

43. Ohrules (Posts: 327; Member since: 11 Jun 2012)

has the name of the next android been amounced? i remember hearing jelly bean around the time when ics was released.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 16:12

47. nnaatthhaannx2 (Posts: 820; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)

No, but I think the speculation is that it is going to be made my Motorola since they have that partnership with Google or whatever.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 19:59

70. nnaatthhaannx2 (Posts: 820; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)

Oh scratch that, I thought you were talking about the name of the next Nexus, not Android OS.
I think it is Key Lime Pie, but not sure.. might be Kiwi.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 17:40

62. JonBjSig (Posts: 176; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)

People have been saying it's going to be named Key Lime Pie.

posted on 17 Jul 2012, 00:55

83. bayusuputra (Posts: 962; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)

from the Jelly Bean animation in the settings, it could be KandyCane as well.. :)

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 16:10 7

45. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)

did he just say that siri was the first voice assistant...bloody hell apple making even tech bloggers delusional

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 19:15 4

66. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

yup. its been a growing epidemic of delusions of apple grandeur. I was hoping it would fade as apple's market share faded, but people are just doubling down on stupid.

posted on 16 Jul 2012, 19:55 2

69. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)

well you got to hand it to apple for even fooling ''professionals'' about being first lol...although it says a lot more about the poeple who are being fooled

posted on 17 Jul 2012, 00:46

82. alekhos (Posts: 2; Member since: 17 May 2012)

"Google Now is a very interesting attempt to leverage that huge amount of data we feed into our computers every day. We felt it was more of an interesting experiment for the moment, though - something we’d love to see in products like Google’s Project Glass and in future technology."
As I said in another comment for another article: Yeah...that would definitively shape a sheepish world, given the nature of Google Now, as explained. Think, already, with the proper training (this is kind of a A. I. software), Google Now can predict what info you need, but, as it was pointed out here, it would soon be telling you what to do and you would be like "Oh, ok I´ve forgotten that, thanks". Think that comes from your phone, which may be in your pocket, but maybe at some place not instantly reachable or even left over around (you may want to shower or have s** or something) and you might not get the notification instantly. Now think you´re wearing your glasses. How could you avoid being told most of the time what you should do or were you should be and how to get there fast? Of course you could choose NOT to pay attention...but the question is...when the time comes...will we "look to another side"?...wait, you can´t even do that! The thing is right before your eyes! And probably more sooner than later it will be sounding in your ears also...natural voice and all (perhaps a voice of your choice). Now get the whole picture...

posted on 17 Jul 2012, 11:48

103. spikyhead (Posts: 3; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)

Can anybody tell me whether my Xperia s is upgradable to 4.1?

posted on 17 Jul 2012, 14:30 1

104. Mr.Mr.Upgrade (Posts: 474; Member since: 30 Aug 2011)

bet everyone who bought the s3 wish they had got the nexus......the s3 will not recieve jellybean for bout a year ...by then something else will be out lol.....this is why u get a nexus.... nexus will always get software up date.... regular samsung...htc...motorola...phones will not ..do your homework

posted on 24 Jul 2012, 10:25 1

116. robbe291 (Posts: 6; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)

I know Samsung in the past has been very slow to release updates. But when it comes to their iconic Galaxy S devices, this recently has not been the case. Trust me, anyone who bought the s3 had specific reasons for buying it, and most people are keen buyers knowing that the nexus line receives updates first. With the upgraded features on the s3 versus the galaxy nexus (except the screen), the s3 is much better. When JB is ported to the s3 later this year, what will you be saying then Mr. TI OMAP processor, lol? I'm a huge all around Android (Google) fan, I just had to throw my two cents out there, because I no longer am a VZW rep, and don't have to follow their rules about posting in forums. Enjoy your Galaxy Nexus receiving all updates first, but most recently bought top-tiered devices will enjoy JB soon as well, esp. if you know how to install ROMs.

posted on 20 Jul 2012, 20:14

111. Jonathan41 (Posts: 532; Member since: 22 Mar 2012)

Can't wait to get this on my One X

posted on 22 Jul 2012, 11:07

112. abiug.gc (Posts: 15; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)

does aybody knows if LG optimus 2x will have this update? im so excited about it and hoping it!

posted on 22 Jul 2012, 12:58

114. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5711; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)

oh you bet. o:

posted on 23 Jul 2012, 10:46

115. abiug.gc (Posts: 15; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)

im fommexico and this is one of the best devices we have :(

posted on 27 Jul 2012, 04:31

118. Shino (banned) (Posts: 196; Member since: 23 Jul 2012)

Well, one thing is for sure: This is one hell of a dumb name for an OS! :) Jelly Bean?!? Seriously? WTF???

posted on 29 Jul 2012, 23:52

122. bansidhar (Posts: 16; Member since: 28 Apr 2012)

android 4.1 = ios 4.1

android 5 = ios 5

android 6 = ios 6

posted on 03 Aug 2012, 03:36 1

125. joey_sfb (Posts: 5741; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)

Another prove that iOS fanboy know nuts about Android OS.

Let face it, Android OS release schedule has overtaken iOS while Apple is busy preparing to sue everyone a$$ to oblivion

4.1.x Jelly Bean July 10, 2012
4.0.x Ice Cream Sandwich October 19, 2011
3.x.x Honeycomb February 22, 2011
2.3.x Gingerbread December 6, 2010
2.2 Froyo May 20, 2010
2.0, 2.1 Eclair October 26, 2009
1.6 Donut September 15, 2009
1.5 Cupcake April 30, 2009

posted on 31 Jul 2012, 12:13

123. yasir-umer (Posts: 3; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)

Is it available for xperia neo??????

posted on 06 Aug 2012, 14:37

127. dadoo985 (Posts: 26; Member since: 30 Oct 2009)


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