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Under The Hood with Android 4.1, Jelly Bean
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Date: Aug 09, 2012
Section:Mobile
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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Jelly Bean, The Latest Version Of Android

Google claims Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, is the fastest and smoothest version of Android yet. When we took a look at the first Jelly Bean-equipped tablet a couple of weeks back, the Nexus 7, we felt Jelly Bean had a lot to offer users, both in terms of performance enhancements as well as new functionality. Here, we'll take a closer look at some of the new and improved features that come with Jelly Bean.

Jelly Bean is Inherently Faster -

One of the goals Google had while creating Android 4.1 was to improve upon the user experience by making the mobile OS feel fast and smooth. In this regard, Jelly Bean is most certainly faster than its older brother, Ice Cream Sandwich. In real-world usage, we felt the Nexus 7 was smooth and very responsive, just as we'd expect from Jelly Bean. Google has a cool video that compares the speed of Jelly Bean with Ice Cream Sandwich if you'd like to see the differences for yourself. Check it out below.

Behind the scenes, Jelly Bean is designed to instantly boost the frequency of your device's CPU the moment the screen is touched, to enable a faster response. Recognizing that you don't need the CPU boost all of the time, the OS will turn the CPU clock down when it's not needed to save battery life, as is the case with other versions of Android as well.

Jelly Bean Notifications With Actions -

Google also improved the notification shade in Jelly Bean by adding actions and expansion options to the notifications. When you pull down the notification bar for example, you'll notice the first notification is expanded. This is helpful if you want to see the first few sentences of an email, for example. You can expand and condense other notifications as well.

You'll also notice that different notifications have different actionable items. For example, depending on the notification, you can set a reminder, email guests related to a calendar event, call someone back if you missed their call, and much more.

The new notifications bar is also customizable to the extent that you can pinch to zoom or use two-finger swipe on individual notifications to see more or less information. As with Ice Cream Sandwich, you can dismiss notifications one by one by swiping them off the screen as well.

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Google Now & Google Search

Introducing Google Now -

Jelly Bean is the first version of Android to get a new feature from Google known as Google Now. According to Google, Google Now "will give you just the right information at just the right time." Now provides information that Google deems relevant to you based on your location, time of day, interests, and other data. While it's possible to configure some settings in Google Now, the feature primarily uses contextual data from your device, Google products, and third-party products to figure out what information is most relevant to display.

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With Google Now, you can see weather information, nearby place listings, traffic updates, flight information, sports scores, appointment information, currency conversion, and much more. Google Now is designed to get smarter the more you use it, which is pretty cool. We've got a video posted below if you'd like to see Google Now in action... 


A New Google Search Experience -

Jelly Bean's search experience has a new look and feel too. It also features faster Voice Search capabilities which are available even if you're offline. Since the voice recognition processing is handled locally rather than in the cloud, the results are made available much faster.

Behind the scenes, Google is using its Knowledge Graph to help your tablet or smartphone display even more relevant and useful results. For example, if you search for Leonardo da Vinci, you'll not only see traditional Google search results, but you'll also see information pertaining specifically to da Vinci, including his dates of birth and death, famous artwork, and similar people you might be interested in. If you search for weather, you'll still get traditional web search results, but the first result will be a Google Now-like card that displays the current forecast for your location.

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If you search Google using your voice and a Knowledge Graph answer is returned in the search results, Jelly Bean will speak the resulting answer back to you. For example, when we asked our Nexus 7 tablet, "What is the height of Mount Everest," the tablet replied with a voice to let us know the elevation of Mount Everest is 29,029 feet. A Knowledge Graph card was displayed on the screen as well, with web search results listed below the card. You can use natural language when searching using your voice. The spoken results you receive from Jelly Bean are quite conversational and don't sound robotic.

 

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Additional Features

Home Screen Personalization -

When you're personalizing your home screens in Jelly Bean, you'll notice that  when you place a widget on a home screen, the other items on that screen will automatically move around to make room. Widgets are also manually resizable.  When necessary, Jelly Bean will automatically resize a widget as well, so that it fits within a home screen that may be littered with other items. You can also remove apps and widgets from a screen quickly, by pressing and holding then flicking them off the top of the screen.

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Improved Text and Language Input -

Google has also updated Android's dictionaries to be more accurate and relevant to users. Jelly Bean uses a language model that adapts over time and also features improved text-to-speech capabilities that work even if you don't have a data connection. When composing messages, the keyboard found in Jelly Bean will try to guess your next word before you start typing. Once accustomed to the new predictive algorithms, entering text can be much faster.

Sharing & Pairing -

Thanks to Android Beam, Jelly Bean devices can also share photos, videos, contacts, web pages, apps, and more using a simple tap. When you touch two NFC-enabled Android devices back-to-back, you'll get the option to beam content from your screen to a friend.

You can also pair your Jelly Bean device with other devices such as your Bluetooth headset or speakers by tapping them together, provided the Bluetooth device supports the Simple Secure Pairing standard. This functionality eliminates the need to sync or search for devices and then connect them manually.

That's Not All -

We've highlighted some of the coolest new features of Jelly Bean in this article, but there are plenty of additional features that have been added or improved upon as well. For example, Jelly Bean features a Gesture Mode to assist blind users, an updated JavaScript Engine, support for blink detection in the Face Unlock feature, additional camera controls, and much more.



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