What to look for in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (Photo Sphere, Gesture Typing, and much more!)
Well kids, the cat is officially out of the bag now. Despite Google’s Playground event being cancelled, which was originally scheduled for today, we still got all the details we’ve waited all summer for. We now know there’s definitely a Nexus 10 coming on November 13th. We also know the Nexus 4 is on its way, as is the 32GB Nexus 7, but one thing we haven’t covered here yet is what to expect from Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
The details just went live, and we’ve got every last bit of the 411 here for you. Get ready to say hello to a new camera mode, Swype-like gesture typing, multi-user support for tablets, wireless display sharing, daydream, notification power controls, and a new look for Google Now. Some of these features we’ve been expecting, some of them are a nice surprise. Let’s take a closer look at each of them, shall we?
Photo Sphere is an interesting new camera mode, which lets you take 360-degree panoramic shots (think Street View) and view them on your phone, or share them with your friends and family on Google+. Users can also submit their panoramas to Google’s Street View Database, making them accessible in web browsers from anywhere in the world.
“We were inspired by Street View in Google Maps, and the sophisticated pieces of equipment that Google custom-developed in order to bring you 360-degree photos from all over the world – cars, trikes, and even backpacks.
Photo Spheres make you feel like you’re really there. When you’re snapping a photo sphere, you can move in every direction, you can look up, you can look down, every detail from the original scene is just there.
Photo Spheres are stored as JPEG files, and all of the information required to view them is embedded as open XML metadata in the image itself. So you can email them, post them to Google+, put them in Google+ photo albums. Check it out and also check out all of our Nexus news.”
So, you like the AOSP keyboard, but you really wish it had the ability to trace out your words, like Swype? Gesture Typing is the answer to your prayers. It lets you glide your finger over the letters you want to type, and lift after each word. The keyboard anticipates and predicts your words for you, so thumbing out your texts and status updates should be a bit more easy for those of you who don’t want to use a third-party keyboard.
Google has also updated its keyboard dictionaries to make them more accurate and relevant, and improved text-to-speech to make it even better than it was before. TTS will also work with no data connection now. Awesome sauce all around.
Multiple Users for Tablets
Similar to a Windows PC, Android tablet owners will be able to set up multiple user profiles so that each user can have their own homescreen, background, widgets, apps and games. Becoming the first tablet OS to offer such functionality is a major breakthrough, one even Windows and Apple can’t boast. Now having a shared family tablet doesn’t sound like such an impossibility, does it?
Wireless Display Sharing
This is a pretty awesome feature, in my humble opinion. Android 4.2 lets users connect a wireless display adapter to any HDMI-enabled TV and quickly mirror what’s on the device’s display. This will finally give me a reason to rent movies from the Play Store, and you can guarantee I’ll finally pick up a PS3 controller to pair with my Nexus 7. The thought of playing Shadowgun: DeadZone on a 47-inch screen makes me feel funny in the pants.
Say hello to the gimmicky feature that nobody cares about. Daydream lets your Android device display “useful and delightful” information when idle or docked. To sum it up, it’s basically a screensaver. Let’s hope it doesn’t drain our batteries to Hell, or that there’s at least a way to turn it off.
Improved Google Now
Back in the “exciting” department, Google Now gets a lot better in Android 4.2. you can now see flight information, restaurant reservations, hotel confirmations, and shipping details (we’re guessing this info is pulled from Gmail). Location-aware movie times, nearby attractions, and events have also been added.
Notification Power Controls
Why these didn’t make the ‘What’s New’ page, we’re not sure, but we know they exist. The notification power controls features we CyanogenMod (and other custom ROM) users have had for so long now is finally an official feature. It lets you allow you to toggle settings — like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Brightness, etc — via the notification bar. Nothing more, nothing less.
Shut Up and Give Me Android 4.2
Well, we wish it was that simple, but it’s not available just yet. With the new Nexus devices shipping next month, we can only assume it will be around then when existing Nexus 7′s, Galaxy Nexus’s and other antiquated Nexus devices get it. As for everyone else, there’s no telling. We’ll be sure to keep our eyes and ears on this one. As usual, we’ll be sure to let you know as more details hit the street.