The latest version of Android was unveiled at Google's I/O developers conference today, after the customary Android statue went up at Google HQ. Version 4.1 Jelly Bean builds on the overhaul that was Ice Cream Sandwich, and adds the Google Now feature, which predicts what information you want before you even search for it. Gulp.
Here's the full rundown of what we can expect to see in Jelly Bean phones.
Better text input – On the keyboard, predictive text guesses what word you intend to type out next – like the downloadable keyboard SwiftKey – while voice typing now works without an internet connection.
Easier navigation – Gesture Mode will let you operate your Jelly Bean device with gestures, likely with different movements depending on the number of fingers used.
Faster camera gallery – Just pinch on a photo to view a filmstrip of recent snaps.
Killer search UI – Search in the Google widget and your top result will come up as a minimalist white card. Swiping them away reveals the standard list of links.
Beefier NFC – The Android Beam app can now link two NFC devices and send video files as well as photos and webpages. Plus, NFC-enabled Bluetooth devices can be paired simply by tapping.
More comprehensive notifications – Tap on a missed call alert to return the call, and view emails here too.
Project Butter – In general, Jelly Bean amps up the speed and smoothness of Ice Cream Sandwich, via the so-called Project Butter, which ups the interface frame rate and buffering to tighten overall processing.
Google Now – Here's the biggie that links together all those Google services you probably use – YouTube, Maps, Search, Calendar etc. Google will corral your past behaviour in these apps to predict what information you want at a particular time. Tapping the Google search widget or swiping from the bottom of the screen automatically brings up a list of results suggested by Google Now – and it's anything from scores for your football team to a traffic report based on your usual morning route. It sounds huge and we can't wait to test this one out.
Jelly Bean will roll out as an over-the-air (OTA) update in mid-July for Google's 'pure Android' phones, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Google Nexus S, as well as the Motorola Xoom, the first tablet to launch with Android 3.0 Honeycomb. If you're a developer, you can grab the Jelly Bean SDK right now.