The Android 4.3 Jelly Bean Update – A Breakdown of What’s New and Better!
Posted Under: Android
Here’s an interesting bit of information for you – Android Jelly bean is now the most widely used Android OS and has triumphed Android Gingerbread as the dominant operating system. Gingerbread was Android’s most enduring platform, but it does seem that it’s past its sell by date. What we are witnessing now, is the rise of the Jelly Bean and it is the new claimant to the throne. Some people might say it has already claimed the throne vacated by Gingerbread. But that remains to be seen.
The reason why we are talking about the usage of Jelly Bean is because just a few days ago, Google released the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. For people who expected Google to release “Android Key Lime Pie”, the next big iteration to the Android to compete against the iOS 7, an update to the existing Jelly Bean came as a bit of a disappointment. But, as updates go, the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean isn’t disappointing in the least. In fact, it gets a lot of things right and is definitely a step in the right direction for the Android OS.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s the new version brings to developers and users. But, first a word of caution – This is a minor update so don’t expect and dramatic changes, for that you still have to wait for the “Android Key Lime Pie”.
Now let’s begin taking a look at its features:
Fastest Android OS
Everybody loves the Project Butter tools offered by Jelly Bean. Well, this version of Android improves upon features like triple buffering, hardware-accelerated 2D rendering etc. to improve their performance. This system software doesn’t limit itself to the Project Butter Tools; rather, it improves upon all the tasks and activities that help better the performance of the operating system,ensuring enhanced device performance.
(This feature is only available on tablets)
Android 4.2.2 had already made multi user profiles available, so what’s new in Android 4.3? The major change is that it has come up with a Multi-User Restricted Profiles Feature that will enable you to control app usage and content consumption at user level. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this feature will be businesses and families that share devices. Device owners can decide who has access to which app by enabling or disabling apps in a particular profile. From the point of view of developers, they can now create in-app restrictions and the owner of the device downloading this app can create separate app environment for separate user profiles.If the owner wants to ensure the user will only have access to specific app features, he can define these through the user profile.With this feature, Google seeks to lure away users from iOS, which still doesn’t have a user profiles feature.
Experts believe this feature will give tough competition to iPads that are being popularly used as Point of Sale Devices. Now even Android tablets can perform the same function.
Bluetooth Smart Ready
Back in 2012, when iOS started offering Bluetooth Smart Ready support, people thought an Android update offering this feature would be released soon, but they have had to wait for a year for Android to come up with this feature. So, now you can connect with all those low energy accessories that support Bluetooth Smart. If your device is running the Android 4.3, it can connect to any Bluetooth enabled product like keyboards or headphones or even accessories like Fitbit or Pebble watch.
So what does this mean for developers and their attempts at developing cutting edge mobile apps? Well, they can now develop android apps that can support Bluetooth devices using the API support Android 4.3 offers for Bluetooth Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) Services.
OpenGL ES 3.0 Support
If you’ve got a Nexus 7, Nexus 4 or a Nexus 10, the graphics ability of your device will go a few notches higher, if it runs on Android 4.3. Why just these devices?Because for now, OpenGL ES 3.0 for high performance graphics is only supported in these devices. But don’t worry—support for more deviceswill be added quickly.
This feature allows developers to come up with games with more realistic and immersive 3D graphics. By making use of the OpenGL ES 3.0 extensions developers get the benefit of advanced visual effects and texture rendering, better compression and a whole lot more. This is again an area where Android seemed to be faltering against the iOS, but both developers and end users will be happy that the platform is making concerted efforts to improve its graphic ability. Of course, improved graphics is one thing, but device hardware must also be able to back them up and that’s where the catch lies. Its high end Android tablet and phone users who will benefit most from this feature.
‘Notifications’ was always where Android scored over the iOS, and the Notification bar is one of the most popular features on all Android OS. With the Android 4.3, developers can now access this data stream, if the user allows them to do so. It gives developers greatercontrol over how notifications are pushed through to the primary devices (tablets, smartphones) and also the secondary connected devices (smart watches, etc.). The owners of the devices can allow developers to register for a notification listener service that gives them access to the status bar notification on their device. This will allow developers to create apps that can access and interact with these notifications.
From the user point of view, they are in more control of their notifications, and can see all their notifications at one place. This allows them to take instant action on the notification.
A Better Browser Experience
Haven’t we all looked forward to Android improving its browsing experience? And well this update comes good on our expectations on that front. It offers a marked improvement on the page load speed and the pages also feel a lot smoother; animations and HTML 5 canvases also perform better and the HTML5 video support has improved by a long way.
Improved Camera App and Gallery
Android’s camera support by way of its camera app was always comprehensive, and this update has made it even better. The camera app now has a completely new avatar and some new tools for a better picture taking experience. You can even widen the exposure range with the New High Dynamic range and use the new photo editor features to customize your photos. Also on offer is a featured called Photo Sphere that helps you click immersive panoramic pictures and wide angle shots. An interesting addition to improving the whole experience of using your device’s camera is that you can now access the camera even if your device screen is locked.
Wi-Fi for Location
When an application places a request for location, the Android 4.2.2 will only place the user on the map making use of the device’s GPS. But the Android 4.3goes a step ahead and can place the user on the maps based on his Wi-Fi location. Android users always felt that GPS based mapping was a strain on their battery life, so Wi-Fi locations will be a welcome change and what’s more, this will also speed up the location based services of apps.
A New and Improved Dial Pad
An autocomplete feature is now available in the dial pad; all a user needs to do is start entering numbers or letters and the dial pad will come up with the necessary suggestions regarding the phone number or names. Now you might wonder what’s new because the Samsung phone you were using is already offering this feature. But, that’s because manufacturers like Samsung and HTC are running their own UI skins on top of Android, but device running stock Android OS are not offering this feature. Users of these devices can now go to app settings and enable the ‘Dial pad autocomplete’ to turn on this feature.
Is it Good news for End Users or Isn’t It?
Of course it is! Whether it’s developing iPhone applications or apps for Android devices, all developers want to work with a mobile OS that supports next generation app making. Although the Android 4.3 isn’t a dramatic improvement on the earlier Android version by any means, it offers enough to ensure that developers can now come up with far better apps then they were able to earlier. It is now getting clearer by the day that Google wants its smartphones and tablets to become hubs that connect with a whole world of devices that include Google Glass and even smart watches and many others; and it wants the Android OS to act as the bridge that makes this connection a whole lot easier and seamless. Every new feature that you are going to find in subsequent versions of Android updates will further help developers make a smartphone or tablet the centerpiece of the Android ecosystem.
Both developers and end users are in for a great time ahead. The ability of developers to create progressive apps will get better and better, courtesy improved mobile operating systems. End users will get to use even better apps. So, it’s a win-win situation for everybody.