Google fans received a couple of delectable treats last week when the Mountain View moguls opened the gates of their annual I/O conference and unveiled their snazzy new wares. Top of the agenda at the San Francisco event was, of course, the highly anticipated new Android iteration, Jelly Bean, and the much-talked about Google Nexus 7 tablet. Here’s the lowdown of all that went on…
Android 4.1 was finally announced by Hugo Barra, director of Android product development who unveiled the eagerly anticipated Jelly Bean iteration of the fabled operating system. Speaking at the event, Barra said: “Last year we announced Android across one hundred million devices. Now [there are] four hundred million Android devices.
“Last year four hundred thousand new Android devices were activated every day. Now, one million new Android devices are activated every day.”
Pretty good growth for the little green robot we think you’ll agree, but what will the new operating system actually offer?
Well, for a start there will be improvements to the Google search experience, homescreen widgets and animations will be spruced up, and the UI will be more responsive thanks to the new buttery smooth framework.
Jelly Bean will also feature a new camera app, an enhanced predictive keyboard, and offline voice typing, which all sound very pleasant indeed. Notifications have had a revamp too with a new design offering up more information, meaning users won’t have to keep jumping in and out of apps to find out what the heck is going on. Speaking of applications, they’ll now be able to automatically update, saving time and hassle of visiting Google Play each time you need to freshen up those little chunks of functionality we love so much.
Android Beam will also be available on all Jelly Bean devices with NFC enabled hardware, allowing users to bump phones together to wirelessly share stuff like photos and music. The new Google Now service will feature in Jelly Bean too – this uses data stored on your phone to search for helpful information relevant to you. For example if you usually have a slow journey to work, Google Now will use a combination of your mobile data and Google’s own to offer a quicker and more efficient route.
If you’re the owner of a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S or Motorola Xoom then you won’t have too long to wait before you can make the jump to Jelly Bean, with the update due to be available from mid-July.
Lucky (Nexus) 7
Developed by Asus, the Google Nexus 7 has a swish 1280×800 HD display, is powered by a beefy quad-core processor, and has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC capabilities. The slate looks a bit like a bigger version of the Samsung Galaxy Note and there’s also loads of cool multimedia on board, including a collection of eBooks and Transformers: Dark side of the Moon.
Best of all, the price of the tablet was confirmed at £159 and will include a cheeky bonus £25 Google Play Store voucher. The Google Nexus 7 is pegged to ship mid-July, so keep an eye out for pre-order pages if you want to get your mitts on the new slate ahead of the rush.
Nexus 7 Hands ON
Other I/O revelations included extra features for Google Play, allowing users to manage, update and delete installed apps via the store. Google Docs files will now be able to be edited offline, either on your Android smartphone or slate, and any changes you’ve made will be applied once you re-connect to the web and sync up.
For those toting non-Android handsets there’s good news too. Google are bringing Chrome enhanced web browsing to iOS devices, so if you’ve got an iPhone or iPad you might want to say sayonara to Safari.
The exciting new features of Jelly Bean and the Nexus 7 seem to promise a bright future for the little green robot as Google continues to hold its own against hard hitting competitors Microsoft and Apple. But only time will tell who will be crowned the OS king. We’ll keep tabs on how the three-way battle between Android, Windows Phone and iOS develops.
Author: Abbi Cox of Phones 4u.