The stock keyboard on Android is great, but to make it even better Google brings Gesture Typing, a Swipe-like experience, on 4.2. We still feel faster typing with our two hands, but if you want to type single-handed, Gesture Typing is definitely a good option to have. With your finger leaving a fading blue trace, all it takes it a slight pause on a letter to get Google’s intelligent word recognition software kick in.
7. Google Now
Google Now, the card-based system that was introduced in 4.1 is also updated. It taps into your Google search history and automatically assembles short cards with relevant information. It now integrates flight and hotel reservations, arriving just the day of your flight for example.
8. Improved security
Security is given a big boost in Android 4.2. Android is already a very secure platform if you shop on Google Play. If you experiment with third-party stores, though, problem is they don’t have any malware scanners, and this could be a problem. Google now solves the third-party app problem as well. Back in February the company introduced Bouncer, a Google play system that detects malware and basically does not allow malicious apps.
However Android has remained troubled by premium texting applications and spyware. As you’d guess, such apps do not come from the Play Store. With Bouncer now on Android 4.2, you can however easily and quickly have Android check even third-party apps for such misconduct. Kudos, Google.
Android is a massive platform - it is the world’s biggest mobile operating system. It beats iOS by a huge number. That is why accessibility for all kinds of users is very important. In Android 4.2, Google adds options like triple-tapping acting as a magnification gesture. Additionally, the system helps out blind users by voicing their every action.
9. Daydream mode
Daydream mode is another small improvement in the system, but this one is better suited to devices with larger displays. Imagine you could turn your tablet into a picture frame with a built-in application. That is daydream. You can customize your device to show most recent news and the time as well.
10. Miracast, multiuser support
Miracast is a very important feature, but it is one of the future rather than the present. For starters, out of all Android devices, it is only available on the Nexus 4. What’s more it requires a Miracast-enabled TV. What it does with this setup is wirelessly mirror the content of your device to the TV set. The implications could be great for gaming, watching movies and just about everything you do on the device. And with the constantly varying MHL/HDMI cable standards (for example the Galaxy S III uses a 5-pin MHL port that requires a new cable, different than the 11-pin one for say the Galaxy Nexus), this could answer many people’s prayers.
At the moment, though, it is a promise that is not yet fulfilled.
Android 4.2 introduces multiple user support for tablets. In quick settings, you’d notice your profile name along with a picture, and while that is not functional on smartphones, a simple tap on that icon switches users on tablets. If you have a tablet, chances are it has become the kids’ (wife, girlfriend, etc) favorite. Having multiple user support allows you to not only keep your data safe and out of their reach, but also gives the opportunity for everyone to customize their homescreens, and use the device happily in the family.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is a new flavor of Jelly Bean, and it is the one that tastes best yet.
Moreover, it looks best, and that’s what has been on Google’s radar lately. While Android in the Gingerbread and pre 2.3 era was a pain for the design-conscious eye, starting with Ice Cream Sandwich Google has been improving the style and usability of Android in leaps and bounds.
It now seems that Google has taken a confident lead over iOS and Windows Phone who could earlier claim a more consistent and overall pleasing design. While Windows Phone can still claim the unique card, iOS is starting to show its age in comparison to the newest Android.
The improved camera and gallery apps seem of biggest importance in Jelly Bean. They show that Google is committed to improve its native applications, much like Apple is with its paid iPhoto app for example. We consider home-grown apps like iPhoto, iMovie and now the Google Gallery essential to a platform’s success.
The existential question we are left with thus is “when Google updates Android, does this make a sound in the Android ecosystem?”
We have been saying this for the past years, not months - what Google needs to do is not only update Android, but make sure everyone gets it. The celebrations cannot start when a fraction of Android users have the latest version of the operating system. Truth is carriers and OEMs are the first to blame for slow updates, but whatever the reason, this should stop.
Until then, 4.2 will be the best Android yet when everyone gets it. And if they get it.
- Camera app gets a modern and very practical new UI
- User experience improves in many ways
- Tablet interface gets unified with phone interface
- It will take months until carrier and OEMs deliver this
- Some features like Miracast are not yet practical
- A lot of small (and not so small) bugs have crippled in