Android's 'Jelly Bean' OS Boasts Smoother Functionality

By Gerard Longo, Assistant Editor — July 16, 2012

Google seems to have sped things up with Android 4.1, otherwise known as Jelly Bean. The new operating system, which Google claimed is its "fastest and smoothest version yet," began making its way into the world last week. Google claims that Jelly Bean is a faster, smarter and easier-to-use upgrade over its previous Ice Cream Sandwich release.

They might be on to something with that claim. Chief among the upgrades noted is the ability to connect with contacts more immediately. Jelly Bean interconnects its notifications with the ability to connect its users to whomever they need to reach right away by, for example, allowing someone who narrowly missed a call an option to return that call right away. Jelly Bean also makes more applications readily available at any given time by allowing users more customization options for their home screens. Icons can now move around or even resize in order to make room for incoming icons.

In addition to this gained intelligence, Android seems to have improved its vocabulary since Ice Cream Sandwich. The improved dictionary in Jelly Bean has not only been enhanced to better predict the word you're typing; over time, it gains the ability to predict what words might be coming next.

Voice capabilities are a plus, too, and Jelly Bean has its share. The new operating system allows users to use text-to-speech software for messaging with or without a data connection. Additionally, the new voice search capability is another tool that allows users to vocalize their needs. Those on the go no longer have to type out their queries; they can instead search the web using a Google-powered search engine by verbally stating their search terms or asking a question.

Improved Viewing and Sharing Capabilities

With the swipe of a finger, Jelly Bean users can immediately view the photos they've just taken. The swiping feature works similarly to discard unwanted photos, allowing users to spend less time on going through and doing away with every blurry or poor-quality photo they take.

Sharing those same photos between near field communication (NFC)-enabled devices is a possibility now through Android Beam. Users can share photos, videos and plenty of other transferrable media by touching their devices back-to-back and tapping their screens. This technology also allows users to share with themselves: tapping an NFC-enabled Android device and a Bluetooth headset or speaker set together will enable a similar sharing mechanism that does away with the need for syncing.

Release Details Still Unclear?

One interesting note about the Jelly Bean update is the fact that, well… a lot of phones haven't finished their Ice Cream Sandwich yet. In fact, some HTC devices aren't even scheduled to receive the previous Android update until later this month or August, and HTC has not yet given any indication as to which devices will receive Jelly Bean.

Regardless, some devices, like Samsung's Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ devices and the Motorola Xoom, are expected to receive the update rather quickly, but there are others, like LG devices, that may be waiting until the first quarter of 2013 before Jelly Bean begins prominently figuring into the equation.

In essence, the full list of which devices will see the Jelly Bean update and the timeline for those is unknown. Until official release announcements are made, it's anybody's guess.

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