What’s New in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean?

What’s New in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean?

Jun 29, 2012

Lest we forget with the new hardware introduced at Google I/O 2012, the new Android version was introduced there as well: Jelly Bean. This isn’t 5.0, as some people speculated, but a 4.1 release, and as such it appears to be largely comprised of incremental updates, little features to improve the experience on Android, rather than major overhauls like Ice Cream Sandwich introduced.

Delta app updates have been introduced, which means that when an app update is released, it’s possible for only the data that’s been changed to be downloaded to the device in order to update it. This could come extremely in handy for large games – and iOS could use this feature!

Notifications can now include more information than just their app icon with a subject and text, with richer information fields that will allow for multiple lines of text and images to be added in to notifications. Multiple actions can be added to a notification, such as missed calls will have options to call back or send a message directly from the notification bar. Developers can implement this in their apps as well. Users will be able to prioritize notifications as well, so important ones appear at the top.

On a technical level, new vsync timing has been introduced across Android frameworks in order to help combat lagginess. Part of Google’s “Project Butter,” if this helps make the Android user experience much smoother, it could help Google out in the war of quality versus iOS. Devices with HDMI output can now send multichannel audio through HDMI, meaning that hypothetically, videos from Google Play can now play back through surround sound systems. Widgets can now automatically resize based on the space available to them, and change the content in them based on the space given.

Additional options for accessories have been added, such as discovery of new input devices like controllers, and discovery of features such as force feedback in controllers. Network discovery options for finding services on local networks could also help with local wifi multiplayer games. Audio can be output via USB, which will help with dock accessories that will be able to charge and play music in a car through one port, for example.

While there’s not one killer feature here that defines the OS, or any kind of major overhaul visually, it’s an update that should improve the user experience for the lucky few who get it. The update is rolling out to the Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, and Motorola Xoom in the next month, the Nexus 7 will launch with Jelly Bean, and the source code is available now for phone manufacturers (read: custom ROM creators) to start playing around with and get supported on their phones soon.