Yesterday Google Announced Jelly Bean, their next generation operating system for Android powered devices. So what is it and what does it bring to the table?
Google has implemented triple frame buffering and many other new enhancements to how it handles graphics. The goal was to make rendering on the screen as buttery as possible (Google even called the UI ‘Butter’) and it looks like they have succeeded. Jelly Bean takes the smoothness of Ice Cream Sandwich and makes it even more impressive.
This was all part of an initiative Google called Project Butter, which had one simple aim: achieve constant 60 FPS throughout the entire UI on all modern hardware. And it works. Launching Google apps is nearly instant, using voice features results in no delay between click and use, and the gallery finally works flawlessly.
Keyboard with Better Predictive Text
Android’s stock virtual keyboard has never been great, and even though they improved it in ICS I still had to switch to Swype. But Google has pumped a lot into making the new JB keyboard the best it possibly can be. Basically they have reinvented Swiftkey, the venerable keyboard replacement that offers amazing text predictions as you type. If you use your keyboard a lot, your life is about to get much easier.
Maps now work offline. Actually downloading the map is a bit of a chore, but once it is on your machine you are set. Though you should know that maps are quite huge right now. You can quickly fill up your phone with them.
Offline Voice Input
This is actually a very impressive feat. Google has previously relied on some clever backend work to make voice input work, packaging up your command and sending it to their servers for processing. But that introduces lag into the whole thing and still requires internet access. Google has performed some wizardry, however, and now voice input works locally on the machine.
We talked about this yesterday so I won’t spend much more time on it, but Google Now is Google’s Siri competitor. It looks like it will be amazing.
Enhanced Notification System
Jelly Bean introduces a pretty radical redesign of the notification system. The basic concept is still there—a pulldown shade with all your notifications—but Google has made it much more information rich. Now you can expand notifications, for example, to see what gmail messages you have. And others can code for the expansion.
Tablets will also see a slightly different notification pane, one that doesn’t cover the entire screen. Rather, it will be centered with a translucent black border around the page.