Android has evolved a lot since its early days. From a raw platform making its shaky debut in October 2008 on the T-Mobile G1, it has since then pushed the pedal and become the world’s most popular platform. What’s more important, it no longer feels as if Android is catching up - rather it is leading the way and others are now trying to keep pace.Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
and the arrival of Palm and webOS chief designer Matias Duarte
, look like the breakthrough moment. While ICS finally matured the looksm, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
added the perfectly smooth performance the platform needed.
Android 4.2 builds on that with a razor sharp focus on the user. Google brings a ton of gradual improvements, making Android more and more user friendly. You’ve heard it over and over that Android is for the geeks and not the casual user. Google is determined to change this perception, and it does take a giant leap towards that in 4.2.
So with no further ado, here are all the new Android 4.2 features, take a look.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean: the new features
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean: the new features
1. Android 4.2 has widgets on the lock screen
Lockscreen widgets! If we had to point out the most exciting new feature in Android 4.2 that would be it. Now, you can add all kinds of widgets to the lockscreen, and you simply access them by swiping to the left or right without needing to unlock the phone. This is one easy productivity boost that we’ve been wishing for in a while. Google’s Matias Duarte showed how you can set up a widget to access the camera by just swiping to the right, but you could also set up Gmail, weather and all sorts of useful widgetry.
2. Tablets get a brand new user interface, more phone-like
Android 3.0 Honeycomb was an emergency stop for Google’s platform as the company was in a rush to introduce tablets. It came with tile-style notifications in the lower-right corner and an app drawer in the upper-right. That however isn’t very convenient and easy to remember, and that’s why in 4.2 we have more phone-like interface for tablets.
The UI comes with notifications pulldown from the top of the screen and a Favorites Tray at the bottom. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it was already used in the Nexus 7!
3. Gesture Typing: Google’s take on Swype
Google is trying to convince us that Gesture Typing is so much more than Swype with predictive input and a futuristich blueish trace your fingers leave on the screen. In reality, the experience should be pretty similar, and having this new input option is definitely welcome.
4. Quick Settings
We mentioned that Android 4.2 puts the focus on ease of use and the user in general. One of the best new additions contributing to its user friendliness is the Quick Settings menu that flips in with a nice animation from the notification shade. There you have all sorts of toggles. With them, the average user simply won’t need to go into settings most of the time.
5. Expandable Notifications
Expandable Notifications built upon the actionable notifications introduced in 4.1 Jelly Bean. Now, you can expand notifications from more apps, so for example if you have an invitation, you can expand it and accept. Neat!
6. Gmail updated with text reflow
In 4.2, Gmail scales messages so they fit in a single view. Yup, that’s the long awaited automatic reflow for messages, and now you can also pinch to zoom in inside Gmail, and swipe to archive or delete messages.
7. Play Store updated with Music Explorer
The Google Play Store has been updated to now support artists discovery, an option that shows you similar artists to what you are listening to.
8. Google Now is better
Google Now can use Gmail to pick up data like flights and hotel reservations and show them to you in a card just when you need them. The cards will also pick up restaurant reservations, and keep you up to date with movie and music recommendations.
9. Multiuser support: only for tablets
Along with the new user interface that is more phone like, tablets also get multiuser support. That is baked into the notification shade and makes it extremely quick and easy to change between user. Each user has a totally unique set of applications and screen layout, just as you’d expect.
10. Photo Sphere
Taking its inspiration from Google Maps’ Street View, Photo Sphere is a panorama application that allows you to stitch images into a larger one not only in vertical orientation, but in full 360 degrees. That makes for a deeper, more interactive and fun way to capture your surroundings.
Miracast is a Wi-Fi Direct-based emerging standard for wireless sharing of content from your smartphone/tablet to your HD TV. It’s just been recently introduced, but with full mirroring of your device and 1080p support, it has the potential to finally bring a unified wireless sharing standard that will actually work out of the box, and that could be big.
12. New clock app
The brand new analog look of the clock application comes with built-in world clock, stop watch, and timer. Nice!
13. Daydream screensaver
Daydream is a screensaver that can pull photos or news headlines straight to your device’s screen while it’s sleeping. Sounds like a great thing to have when your tablet is docked and you might want to use it as, say a digital photoframe.
14. Accessibility improvements
4.2 Jelly Bean now supports triple tapping to magnify the screen, as well as panning and zooming with two fingers. Blind users get speech output and gesture mode, all very welcome improvements.
15. Android 4.2 release date: November 13th for Nexus 4, 10