Google’s latest incremental update, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, is just around the corner and although officials have released a compelling changelog, there are still some things that should be known. These bits of information regard not only hidden features but also, facts about the user experience and relationships between important 3rd party applications.
What many of us know is that Android 4.1 was unveiled last month at Google’s I/O conference and it was preached to be served on all devices that currently run Ice Cream Sandwich. The very first handheld that enjoyed Jelly Bean was Nexus 7, Google’s first slate, which will be followed shortly by the rest of the Nexus family.
What we know
Once this update will reach smartphones, the gadget will be imbued with:
- enhanced accessibility
- expandable notifications
- ability to disable notifications on a specific application
- Bluetooth data transfers for Android Beam
- offline voice detection
- high resolution contact photos
- audio improvements and several other tweaks.
When it comes to performances, Google has added vertical sync (Vsync) timing across all drawing and animation done by the Android framework (app rendering, touch events, display refresh, screen composition), as well as a triple buffering engine for the graphics pipeline. Now, this information is already known and has been available on all media channels, but as you will see, there is more than what meets the eye.
What you should know
1. Project Butter brings increased speed
Most likely, Google will indeed keep his promise and deliver Jelly Bean to all devices currently running Android 4.0 and those that are planned for an update, so one of the first things users will notice is the speed difference. Thanks to Project Butter, a performance improvement program that uses:
- touch anticipation
- triple buffering
- fixed frame rate of 60fps
- extended vertical sync
Android’s somewhat laggy UI will now run smoothly. The video embedded below captures these difference and shows how a higher CPU priority can really change things.
2. No Flash support
Adobe has gone wild again and announced that it will not support Flash Player in devices that don’t have it installed by default. As you may already suspect, this includes Google’s incremental update so developers and users alike will have to count on HTML5 for the job. This was announced in the same period when Adobe ceased support entirely for Google Play.
Moreover, the company plans to withdraw its Flash Player application from the store and completely back off Android. The only ones enjoying support will be those that currently have the application installed, Adobe stating that it will continue to serve updates only to this class of users. The catch is that if you have a device that supports Android 4.1 and you install the update, Adobe will refuse to renew the Flash version and you will be stuck with whatever you have at that moment.
3. Improved Face Unlock functionality
If you remember, when Android 4.0 first hit the scene and the media spoke of this new feature, Face Unlock, customers begin to develop interest. The idea was to unlock the phone using face recognition software that scans the images captured by the front-facing camera, and if the renders resemble the picture set as reference, the device would be unlocked.
Unfortunately, Google’s feature was more of a good concept than a secure way to unlock a device, because the software could have been easily tricked by using a picture of the owner. Now, Google goes to the next level, by introducing a blinking checking sequence, which requires users to blink so as not to be mistaken for a photo.
4. Wi-Fi connects only to strong signals
An interesting setting is now added, which ensures that the device won’t automatically connect to poorly-performing hotspots, whenever the Wi-Fi is turned on and the automatic connection option is enabled. This way, the device will prioritize stronger signal hotspots and ensure that once the line is live, the traffic will run at an optimal speed.
5. Top notch security
Security researcher Jon Oberheide stated that Jelly Bean is the first Android version that implemented a protection known as address space layout randomization, or ASLR. Basically, this system randomizes memory locations for important data structures of the OS, like the library, heap, and stack, thus complicating the job for hackers who want to exploit it.
The protection is very effective against memory corruption bugs, especially combined with an additional data execution prevention system, because hackers are unable to know in advance where their malicious code will be placed. Although ASLR was also contained by Ice Cream Sandwich, the version only had a partial implementation of the security method which didn’t proved to be such a challenge.
6. Easter egg in Jelly Bean
And as with any other Android version up so far, developers have thought of a new Easter egg for Jelly Bean. This one activates itself by going to System Settings -> About Phone and by rapidly tapping the Android version number field. The egg first presents itself as a smiling orange bean, and if the screen is long-pressed countless smaller jelly beans will emerge and allow the user to move each one on the screen.