A closer look at Google's latest version of Android, 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Google's latest version of Android OS is here and it's called Jelly Bean. The Jelly Bean 4.1 platform may be a relatively minor upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich but there are plenty of new features, most of them centered around the user interface. Let's take a closer look at Jelly Bean!
All of our screenshots were taken on a [[artnid:409277|Samsung Galaxy Nexus]]. To learn [[artnid:429778|how to get Jelly Bean on your Galaxy Nexus now]], make sure you read our easy step-by-step guide!
Here is the home screen of Jelly Bean. As you can see, not much aside from the default wallpaper has been changed.
When you touch the lock icon you are now presented three options: swipe left to jump straight into the camera, swipe right to unlock the screen, or swipe up to activate [[xref:http://www.google.com/landing/now/|Google Now]] (more on that later).
The home screen of Android Jelly Bean. We've added a few icons but the general theme hasn't changed much from Ice Cream Sandwich. The main difference is the Google search bar, which is now fixed on all home screens.
One of Jelly Bean's new features is the way widgets are placed on the home screen. Existing widgets will automatically move around the screen to accommodate a new widget. In this instance we are adding the clock widget, when we dragged it towards the bottom of the screen the Maps, Dropbox, Play Store and Gmail app icons all jumped to the top of the screen to accommodate.
You can also remove any unwanted app shortcuts and widgets from the home screen by swiping them upwards to the top of the screen.
You can swipe up from the home button to access the Google Now feature.
The notifications system is perhaps the biggest improvement in Jelly Bean. Notifications now show more details then they previously did. In this example, a new e-mail notification allows you to read the first few lines of the e-mail message from the notification screen.
The extra detail can be minimised if you wish by swiping up with two fingers on the notification.
In addition to more details, some notifications are actionable without having to open the app. For example, in the image above you can share the screenshot we just took by tapping the share button.
You are then presented with this screen, another new feature of Jelly Bean. Instead of a simple list to select where you'd like to share the image, Google has designed this scroll-able action screen. It's cleaner and ties in better with the overall UI of the software than previous Android versions.
Not all notifications in Jelly Bean are actionable, however. We would liked to have seen the ability to reply, forward or archive a Gmail message from the notifications screen, for example.
Another new feature is the way the camera gallery works. Once you take a photo, the image animates across to the right of the screen. Swipe from right to left with the camera open and you will automatically enter the gallery. Pinch to zoom out and you can effortlessly scroll through all of your photos, as shown above.
From this menu, you can delete any photos you like by simply swiping them off towards the top of the screen.
Google Now is the other key feature of Jelly Bean. It's best described as a contextual aware assistant. Swipe up and it will present you with a range of "cards" that present information. Above is the weather card, which automatically adjusts to your current location. There's also cards for traffic, flights, sports, appointments, places, transit, translation, currency, and time back home, though not all of them work in Australia just yet.
The service works with your Google search history to organise the information it provides to you. For example if you've just searched for pizza restaurants in North Sydney, the next time you open Google Now it will present you with a list of places. Google says the service will naturally improve over time as it learns your daily locations and habits.
Jelly Bean is officially the 4.1 version of Android, as the image above shows.
Android Jelly Bean will be available on the [[artnid:409277|Galaxy Nexus]] in the coming weeks, and will come standard on the new [[artnid:428682|Nexus 7 tablet]]. It is unknown when other smartphones and tablets will be updated to the new software.
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