What’s Google I/O without some talk of updates to Android and that’s exactly what we got today with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
The most notable front-facing feature is Google Now, a search feature which brings up related ‘cards’.
Part of this update is the inclusion of ‘Project Butter’. The aim here is to improve upon the fluidity of the UI, something that’s been a challenge with the diverse number of hardware configurations.
Building upon ICS, Jelly Bean improves upon the speed at which you can take and share photos.
Increased support for near field communications will bring support for pairing Bluetooth devices simply by tapping them. You’ll also be able to utilize NFC for sharing files between devices, with incredible ease.
Jelly Bean will allow for offline voice dictation support. The demo earlier today showed a phone in airplane mode, while allowing for voice dictation. No longer will voice dictation require a connection to the Internet.
Improvements here include the ability to set preferences on a per-app basis, along with management of notifications from within a separate app.
There were some noticeable improvements in the UI and use of gestures. Matias Duarte, who worked previously on webOS, showcased “throwing apps away” and other gesture based actions that were heavily influenced by webOS. With that OS left for dead by HP, it’s nice to see Google picking up some of the better features.
Developers can access the 4.1 SDK today.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will start rolling out in July. The current list of devices slated to receive the update are the Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Xoom and Galaxy S. Expect more information on updates from manufacturers in the coming weeks and months.
All in all, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean brings with it some nice performance updates and improvements over ICS. The bigger question remains, if and when will most devices see this update?