All the new features in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean


Google have announced that Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is on its way to developers and users alike. With the update coming sometime in June, users are going to want to see what to expect from this incremental update. Don’t let the .1 fool you: this thing is jam packed with changes that will make it feel like an entirely new experience. Let’s run through them.

Performance (or Project Butter)

While we thought Google’s performance gains with Ice Cream Sandwich were more than impressive, they’re claiming to be able to do even better. With new technological approaches to graphics drawing functions like v-sync, triple buffering, and touch responsiveness.

With the ability to predict where you’ll go next in an app Google can can do a bit of pre-loading to make the experience that much smoother. All of this will converge into a change that will allow the OS to maintain a smooth 60 frames per second no matter what, and that’s exactly what we’ve been asking for from the get-go.

Smarter Home Screen Management

Moving widgets and apps around on your home screens will now be even easier thanks to some changes Google have made. When moving a widget around apps will automatically wrap around it so you won’t need to go through the cumbersome process of moving individual icons around, deleting them, re-adding them, etc.

Widgets can be re-sized automatically when you’re moving it from one pane to the next. It’s a natural extension of the folder’s wrapping feature and we are glad it’s finally part of the home screen as a whole.

Input and Accessibility

Google announced that voice input would no longer require an internet connection: everything you need for voice-to-text and other voice features are embedded into the software. This is perfect for those who want to get some work done using voice but can’t seem to find an internet connection.

Google’s also made changes to the keyboard by adding a predictive text system that will predict what you want to type before you type it. While we’ve had this sort of prediction in third-party keyboards like SwiftKey for quite some time, we are always glad to see stock apps give more functionality.

And now, more users can type on the keyboard as Google have finally added native support for Arabic, Persian, Hindi, and Thai. As for that accessibility part, those who have disrupted vision will be able to use gestures to do many things in the OS. Swiping and touching are all you’ll to navigate the device.


The camera’s gotten some minor, but nice improvements. You can now view the images you’ve just snapped by swiping your finger across the viewfinder. Sliding to the left reveals the photos, and sliding to the right will bring you back to the viewfinder. And if you don’t like a certain image you’ve taken, deleting it is as simple as sliding it out of the way.

Android Beam

Android Beam was notoriously lacking when it was first announced. You could only send a very limited amount of content to people. Google have announced that you can now do so much more with it. You can share photos and video to others who have an NFC phone and Android Beam enabled.

That’s not even the best part. Google’s announced functionality that would allow you to pair your devices up with Bluetooth-equipped accessories simply by bumping the two devices. While no specific accessories have been announced yet, we look forward to seeing who’ll be adding this stuff to their accessories.


Here’s the biggie: notifications have gotten a massive overhaul for the better. Actionable notifications allow you to do way more in the pane than you’ve ever been able to do. Google’s making it easier for you to read and react to app updates without having to go into the actual app.

For instance, a missed call notification will allow you to call that contact back straight from the notification. If you’re in a call at the time, you can hang up from the notification. This allows you to control your call from within any app.

Expandable notifications allow you to do things like read the beginning of an email. You can snooze a calendar alarm from a notification and you can email every guest with a preset or custom message from within that same notification.

A photo shared from Google+ gives you a preview of the full photo so you can decide whether or not you want to check out a bigger version. You can +1 that photo and share it from the same notification.

In Foursquare, you could like and comment on your friends’ check-ins. With TuneIn Radio, you can skip a song, play or pause a song, and even save it as a favorite. With a swipe of two fingers, Pulse will give you the latest headlines and preview images to go along with them.

Google’s giving developers complete freedom in what they can do with their actionable notifications. This should excite many people as I’m sure developers will not hold back. I could spend all day dreaming up some useful notifications for my favorite apps.

Google Now and the new searching standard

Finally, Google’s introduced Google Now, a new way to search for anything you want or need. I hate to use the “S” word, but this is pretty much Google’s Siri. We’re not sure if this is what Majel turned out to be or not, but it’s pretty much what Google said it would be (ie, something beyond the scope of Siri).

Google Now lets you search for the most general of terms or the most specific facts and it will return those results in a great way. For instance, I could ask the height of the Eiffel Tower and Google would spit back 1,063 feet. These will come in the form of Knowledge Graphs which not only give you the answer you were looking for, but more details about that item.

A Knowledge Graph can be dismissed to reveal more information about whatever it is you were searching for. Knowing the height is nice, but knowing why such a tower exists also comes in handy and you don’t have to much of anything to go deeper in your searches.

You have the option of enabling a voice that will speak the result back, and it understands plain English so you can forget about looking at a list of suggested phrases.

But the really interesting thing is in Google Now. Google Now will learn your personal life based on the things you do in Google Search and other Google sites. If you seem to search about the Packers a lot, Google Now will ping you when a game is near.

It knows where you work and where you live, and as scary as that sounds it sounds pretty cool. It’ll let you know the traffic to and from your destination once the time it thinks you usually go to work approaches.

It sees that you have meetings and will go a step beyond just alerting you. You will be given the best possible route to get to that meeting in a certain amount of time, and it even extends to public transportation by letting you know which route to take as well as what time your designated buses and trains should arrive.

If you’ve recently done a search for a certain flight it will give you flight details including which gate to board your flight. And the cool thing is that all of this happens without you needing to tell it: it just happens.

Coming Soon

All of this is coming our way sometime next month. The SDK is already available for developers who want to start upgrading their notifications, and users can look forward to all of the changes sometime down the line (it will depend on your carrier and OEM, of course, but GSM Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S owners shouldn’t have anything to worry about). We’ll sit back and enjoy the smooth ride that’ll be here in no time. What did you guys think of all the announcements made today?

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. srsly, how many people search by voice? on top of that…you’ll get the occassional….”oh, how do you like Siri?” (“F off”) :)

    1. I search by voice all the time, then again I try to use my phone to it’s full potential, not everyone does.

      1. Same here. All the time. I like to get things done while I’m driving.

    2. I search, reply to txt or email by voice while driving.

    3. I search by voice and do voice actions like “call ____” or “text ____” so this is a big deal for me. especially since Sprint has such a terrible network, the voice lag can be infuriating.

      1. no, i can appreciate that…i’m talking about voice searching. i wish i could respond to an incoming text without opening any special program.

    4. same here, good to see that offline voice dictation is being enabled, i frequently turn off my 3g to conserve battery, and hate having to toggle it back on just to speak a text message.

    5. I do it all the time. I wish more apps would integrate voice recognition for menu choice selection instead of the touch screen.

      I also dictate emails fairly often when I can’t devote 100% of my attention to swyping in a message.

  2. Project Butta was the best of the bunch. The rest was pretty Meh, honestly. Hopefully they’re saving the real goods for a 5.0 release later in the year right after iOS6 drops. But Project Butter would take a lot of effort and hopefully this time they’ve done it right. I suppose there’s really only so much they can do at this point to wow though…

    1. There is no release later in the year… This is it. Yearly OS upgrades for now on

    2. I really disagree. If GNow works as advertised, it has the chance to be a killer app on android. The Apple apologists over at Gizmodo even said so.

  3. If I could archive or delete gmail on the notifications would be awesome

    1. Yeah, or just mark them as read. Same goes for MMS.

  4. *WINNING!

  5. Wow!

  6. Also, Chrome is now stable and the default browser!

    1. But it won’t ever support flash :-(

      1. A few other browsers and the app “Flashify” makes it less cumbersome though :)

    2. this is actually wrong. i’m running JB (liquid vicious) on my galaxy nexus and it’s still “Browser”

  7. What about emailing contact groups in GMail?

  8. After seeing how smooth and visually appealing everything is getting with 4.1 now you would hope oem’s would just give up on thier sense, blur, touchwiz and stop these delays…

  9. The transit stuff is perfect for my wife. She takes a lot of buses/trains, and that would really help her out.

  10. I’ve owned the iPhone 3g, 3GS, 4, &currently own the iPhone 4s. I can’t take it anymore! Android is kicking Apples ass! ICS to Jelly Bean has added more real features then iOS has in the last 2 years! As soon as AT&T comes out with a 4g capable Nexus I’m jumping the sinking ship&never looking back.


    Pissed Former apple fanboy

    1. Welcome home, we’ve been expecting you.

      1. Also, we have punch and pie waiting.

        1. Actually, All we got right now are leftover Ice Cream Sandwiches, and a jar full of jellybeans.

          The Key Lime Pie is on order though!

          1. Ignore all the gingerbread laying around — it has been left out too long.

      2. Thanks guys. Just waiting on that 4g AT&T nexus so I can keep my unlimited data!

        1. why? You don’t have 4g with Apple now, just get a Nexus from the Play store for $349 and then buy another one next year

          1. Yea, cuz I have wads of money to buy to buy unsubsidized phone after phone lol

          2. When you resell the Nexus, the cost is not so bad…

        2. Why not the Galaxy S3? If you root it, you could have Jelly Bean in a matter of weeks, and they’ve got great developer forums… (HUGE SCREEN…)…….

    2. Can’t the current Galaxy Nexus be used on ATT’s HSPA+ network? I suppose it’s not as fast as LTE though.

      1. It an, but HSPA+ is a sham. I’ve Waited this long for true 4g. I refuse to leverage my mint 4S for faux 4g

        1. your 4S is “faux 4g”

          1. Even LTE is faux 4G. Until LTE-A, we are all living with “market strategy keyworded 4G,” but LTE is as close as it gets.

          2. Exactly. If Im gonna jump ship I wanna get the full benefits of android

      2. I can’t wait for LTE in my area so my GSII will speed up again. Yes, I am serious! It used to be fast until it got bogged down by too many users — LTE should clear up some bandwidth on HSPA+.

    3. Welcome, there’s enough jelly beans for everyone!

    4. I understand that the next iOS release will feature an enhanced version of Siri with a pico projector. It will project a holographic image of Steve Jobs who will answer all of your questions. If he gets a question he can not answer, he will say “You are asking it wrong”

    5. Stay away from the donuts and cupcakes, they are old. Also the froyo is melting. but enjoy the ice cream sandwiches until the jellybeans arrive

  11. so jellybean is bout to come out and i havent even been able to experience ICS on the S3 because its delayed til sunday on sprint lol

    1. That’s why I’m holding my 2 year old phone and waiting for the next Nexus. Nexus only from here on out.

  12. Very nice summary of the big items.

    1. Did Google retain a Adobe Flash compatibility?

      1. Jellybean will not support flash

  13. Still not able to have 5 rows instead of just 4 rows of icons on stock. With such big screens we need the option on Stock Android, like what you can do on Go Launcher.

  14. I can’t wait to try this out! I am debating on weather or not to get a new phone or one of the new Nexus tablets.

  15. Engadget’s coverage of Google IO is crazy…way more detail there, for now…

  16. I can’t wait to see my Nexus 7 with Jelly Bean.

  17. Waiting for HTC to roll the update out for the Evo LTE! (although this may take months…)

  18. Really hoping Google Now works as advertised. That could be amazing.

  19. I wonder if it’s reeeallyy going to be smooth??? When I saw people with IPhones, I notice they tap something and BAM the app just pops open!!!

    I want that kind of smoothness.

  20. I am not wow’d at Traffic Avoidance, something VZ Navigator has had in production for over 2 years. Big Deal. Where’s the embedded DRM, what’s the story with Flash or a replacement, where’s ISIS? This was nothing more than catching up to the fluff Apple released. Boring….

  21. What will happen with CDMA (Sprint) Galaxy Nexus?

    1. That’s what I want to know, but I’m rooted anyway so I’ll get it one way or another

  22. “Butter” could have been implemented in ICS, but they chose not to, so that they can make JB seem special. I see GOOGLE is following Apple’s footsteps in offering limited features changes per upgrade.

  23. Offline voice typing is a huge plus!

  24. Android ICS is the best performing OS for android, up till today….What takes 1st place for me on my Evo 4G is 2.3.7 on CM 7.2 as one of the most stable and reliable builds of Android on multiple devices. ICS has leaped and left so many devices behind on development. The fragmenting issue is picking up on a every 6 month basis. We just threw out 4.0 in november , now 4.1 today. I was lucky enough to try the ports of ICS on my Evo, now im ready for a 4.1 phone. I think i’ve made my decision to wait for the next nexus phone and stick to that. At this moment i can not effectively buy a Samsung GS3 and hope for an update thru another two version of android. The Galaxy Nexus is showing its age after the debut of the One X and GS3….obviously Samsung, Motorola, LG and their desire to stick with UI’s, will continue. I cant rely on a device that wont get an upgrade because of heavy UI’s. Some say the Gs3 2GB of ram was added to accomodate Touch Wiz’s heavy rom and avoid Lag. A phone like that, now that i think about, is not going to continue recieving more past “Key Lime Pie” or whatever we call the next version. This is a good guess based on the fragmenting and the frequency of android updates.

    1. At least with Android, the updates bring real new value. My daughter has a 4 and couldn’t care less about an upgrade as it doesn’t bring anything new. As far as fragmentation — while the issues it brings should be taken seriously and their effects modified, I welcome the plethora of choices and competition.

  25. Google now looks pretty cool, but I think I might just keep it turned off most of the time…kind of creeped out.
    /. _ |
    . |

  26. Going to wait for the new iphone battery life test to decide whether stay with gnexus/android or not.

  27. Oh my gosh!! I haven’t WANTED an Android update since the update to FroYo with flash support. Oh my gosh!! Screw ICS!! The GS2 needs to just skip that and go straight to Jelly Bean!! =.P

    I knew I lyked Jelly Beans for a reason. I’m rooted and ready to go. CM9 needs to just stop what they’re doing and start working on CM9.1 =.D
    Sorry, no hard feelings, I appreciate you all.

    Oh my gosh!! I can’t stop thinking about all those features.

    1. CM version = number of the corresponding letter of the alphabet of the Android version. So CM for Jelly Bean would be CM10.

      1. Oh that’s insane!! I never noticed that. Cool!! Thanks!!

    2. My guess, and it’s just a guess, is that cm10 (and other jb roms) will come about quicker, as it’s not such a firmware overhaul as it was from gb to ics. Someone will correct me if Im off base with this, Im sure. : P

  28. I’m still upset that I bought a Nexus phone to get these updates and Verizon is going to be the ones getting in the way. I’m jumping ship as soon as my contract ends. Verizon got in the way of what their customers wanted out of the Nexus phone. At least I can get the roms when they come out.

  29. Saying “Google have” is like saying “Google are”…..silly huh?

  30. Funny that for some odd reason I decided to bring home today a bag of jelly beans that I’ve had at work for the longest time. It wasn’t planned or anything, I just grabbed it on my way out…

  31. Seriously a terrific upgrade, bravo Google

  32. *fap fap fap*

  33. Jelly bean is seriously the release I’ve been most excited to hear to- Yes, there were few more things I was expecting but this much is awesome any how. Performance was one of the main quirks for Android- glad to know El Goog has done some pretty badass enhancements. Nexus 7 & Q are pretty slick too and I’d have bought it off straight if I was in States (oh and if I had enough money lol). Dat glass. New services. New Apps. And one awesome conference. Totally blew the roof off.

    Long post I know. Couldn’t help :3

  34. Wow…Google did not disappoint.

    Amazing. There will be soooo many critics however, that will say “google is big brother”. I call it genuinely helpful technology.

    Congratulations, Google…Wow.

    1. To the “Big Brother” argument – it is opt in. So as always with Google, it is your choice.

  35. Let’s see, do I care ???? I can’t get a device upgraded to ics and you think I give a rats butt about jelly bean. How completely stupid can you people be ??? Most phones will never be upgraded anynow. We’re getting sick and tired of being shown crap we will never have unless we spend ANOTHER 400 bucks on another phone that will be outdated within 6 months. I’ve had it. Im going back to a frackin flip phone and forget this crap ever exisited.

  36. Random video of the 4.1 on the emulator :s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtRPs276Qyk
    Random video comparing speed o: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtRPs276Qyk

  37. I am super excited for jelly bean. I mean it looks awesome. Now that they debuted it, I’m only gonna have to wait 4 more months for my Atrix2 to get upgraded to ICS and at lest 12 after that for JB. But seriously. I’m excited! It’s gonna be a killer update for my in 16 months. Can’t wait for a Key Lime Pie upgrade in 24 months. And Lemming Soup in 3 yrs!!!

  38. Haha can’t wait to see what Google spits out to avid porn watchers lol

  39. Fuck you, Google. Why don’t you wait for ICS to be released on all of your handsets before you start bragging about your next big thing? Awesome. I can’t wait for the iPhone 5.


    A used-to-be proud owner of all things HTC

  40. And June of this year this is to be released?

  41. I’d better start saving up now to purchase a shiny new Sprint Galaxy Nexus. Jelly Bean actually made me giddy. That’s like, crazy man.

  42. lordy lord, bloody splendid is all i can say!!!

  43. sounds delicious, chewy, colourful… and I heard it will have a thermonuclear bounce-back amplification mirror… best feature of all ;)

  44. Would I be able to upgrade my GS3 from ICS to JB?

    1. I mean on my own by installing the upgrade on my phone?

  45. Bluetooth MAP support? Yes? No?

  46. I hope that jelly Bean gives you the option to separate the sound on the ringer and notifications.

  47. I’d like for Android to name their next big Android update “Apple Crumble”. I just think this would fit so perfectly.

  48. After downloading the ICS two days ago to my G2, I hope BIG TIME that they offer the Jelly Bean to those of us that got that CRAP software ICS. I HATE IT. Wish I had NEVER downloaded it. So many problems with it and now my phone isn’t as awesome as it once was. I’m VERY disappointed with ICS and would highly recommend anyone NOT upgrading to it.

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