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As far as sweets go, jelly beans can be much sweeter than ice cream sandwiches, however in the Android world of sweetness, is Jelly Bean really all that special and worth buying a newer smartphone or salivating over an update?
If we just go by numbers it is an incremental upgrade. The number of countable improvements from Gingbread to Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) totalled over 25. The the main difference with Google is the marketing. The marketing shows new features in a more iPhoney way as you see in the video that follows. What's interesting to note that Google did not give the voice feature a name like Siri, or Jilly Bean, instead its still labeled Google.
Let's first look at the improvements in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean:
- Voice Actions - new revamped and takes dictation offline. All you have to do is say Google or press the mic to activate. Preliminary tests show it be on par with Siri. It will show a card or web search results. However previous voice search on Android was decent, a minor improvement for the better.
- Google Now - combines data from your activity and various Google services to deliver custom info cards catered to your usage.
- Expanded Notifications - pinch to zoom to see what you want learn from the notifications.
- Android Beam Increased File Size and Photo Viewing - Google states Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, made snapping photos super fast; Jelly Bean brings that same speed to the next step: viewing. Just swipe over from camera to filmstrip view to instantly view the photos you just took, and quickly swipe away the ones you don’t like.
- Faster/Smoother -(Project Butter) - under the hood for less latency (slowness) vsync timing, triple bufferering, syncronizing touch, CPU input boost, systrace and more. Reviewers have noted that it does seem faster.
- Resizable Widgets - widgets can be sized for easier viewing.
- Tablet Looks More Phoney - 7 inch tablets will look more the phone version and 10" tablets will retain the tablet look in a landscape homescreen.
- Better Keyboard - Android’s dictionaries are now more accurate, more relevant. The language model in Jelly Bean adapts over time, and the keyboard even guesses what the next word will be before you’ve started typing it.
The first devices to get updates to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will be the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Xoom and Nexus S smartphones, expected to be released in July. The latest glitch is that due to a court order from a patent preliminary hearing, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is banned from sales. Google pulled the unlocked Galaxy Nexus from Google Play store while as of yesterday carriers were still selling the device.
The first new device to come loaded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will be the Nexus 7, supercharged Kindle-like tablet. Manufacturers have not announced when or what devices will be updated to this operating system. It will be hard to make a decision whether to wait or buy a new device. In the past, when an update was coming available the top of the lines marked phones from the major makers announce within the last 3 to 6 months were eligible for updates. If you are currently happy with your smart phone running Android, you can wait. If any of the above aforementioned features you must have, you may consider the upgradable phones. The only problem is that the Nexus S does not have the fastest processors and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus may get harder to find.
The most important things to look at when buying a smartphone are not what's the newest/fastest but what meets your needs.
What's next? Android Key Lime Pie may be the next Android OS, that is a really sweet dessert, even too sweet to eat...