The Android faithful did not have to wait long in Google's I/O 2012 to receive news about Google’s newest version of the Android OS: Jelly Bean 4.1.
While some items from our wishlist for the OS update didn’t make the cut, Google showed some rather appealing features in Jelly Bean that will improve the overall Android experience.
The first enhancement – dubbed 'Project Butter' – promised to make the user interface 'buttery smooth' and accomplishes this by increasing the frame rate to 60 FPS while using Vsync and Triple Buffering to increase the overall touch responsiveness.
One buttered bean
Another major feature of Jelly Bean is the shrinking of the Google Speech voice typing software. This smaller software package means that Google Speech will now work offline in Jelly Bean.
At launch, the improved Google Speech will only support US English, but there are plans to add up to 18 new languages over time.
Notifications have also been updated in Jelly Bean to be 'actionable', allowing users to +1 or share photos without opening the app. Additionally, users can view multiple emails and return missed phone calls all from within the notifications shade.
Enter, Google Now
One of the more controversial features of Jelly Bean is 'Google Now' which purports to bring its users '… just the right information and just the right time, automatically'. It accomplishes this by personalizing and tailoring search results by factoring in a user's individual search history, calendar, and physical location.
Those concerned with their overall privacy will be happy to learn that Google Now is an optional feature.
Finally, Jelly Bean offers a few tweaks to the Camera app (users can now pinch to enter a film strip style view to review multiple photos faster) and Android Beam, which now allows users to share video via Near Field Communication.
Google will begin to release Jelly Bean over-the-air in the middle of July.