Android Jelly Bean Includes New Interface Features

By Robert J. Mullins  |  Posted 2012-06-27 Print this article Print


Android 4.1 will offer several new performance improvements under a program called Project Butter, said Dave Burke, an Android engineering director. The upgrades include an improvement in the frame rate at which images are seen on the device to 60 frames per second. And that frame rate will be consistent across all uses, including video, touch-screen reaction and display refresh. Project Butter also improves touch-screen responsiveness and dials back CPU cycles when the device is idle.

Among other new features that wowed the crowd of an estimated 6,000 attendees at the Moscone Center in San Francisco are improved text input for composing emails, text and calendar entries, including voice typing even when the device is offline. Improvements to the camera include easier ways to review previously taken photos and to delete unwanted ones with a flick of the finger.

Bara also demonstrated improvements to the notifications app that tells the user when a voice mail, text or email has arrived and reminds them of upcoming appointments.  If the user has missed a call, they can see that notice in Notifications and tap it to call the person back, without having to exit Notifications and open the phone app, he said.

Android 4.1 adds a new search user interface that includes Google Now, which offers search results related to what the user is doing now and what is in their calendar. If they are headed to an appointment, Google Now can tell them how much time they should leave to get there on schedule, whether they are traveling by car, bus or subway. If, by their search history, Google Now learns that the user is a fan of the San Francisco Giants, it will tell the user the start time of today€™s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Updates to Android 4.1 will become available for over-the-air download for Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Zoom and other hardware platforms. Google will release Jelly Bean to the open-source community, starting in mid-July, Bara said.

Jelly Bean will be available for wide beta release immediately, Bara said. Besides the software development kit (SDK) preview that developers can begin using immediately to start building apps, Google is also releasing a platform development kit (PDK) for device designers to build Jelly Bean into their products.

The global population of Android-powered devices has now reached 400 million, up from 100 million just one year ago, said Vic Gundotra, a senior vice president at Google and the highest-ranking company executive on the stage. He added that today 1 million new Android devices are activated per day globally, up from 400,000 per day at Google I/O 2011.

Robert Mullins is a freelance writer for eWEEK who has covered the technology industry in Silicon Valley for more than a decade. He has written for several tech publications including Network Computing, Information Week, Network World and various TechTarget titles. Mullins also served as a correspondent in the San Francisco Bureau of IDG News Service and, before that, covered technology news for the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal. Back in his home state of Wisconsin, Robert worked as the news director for NPR stations in Milwaukee and LaCrosse in the 1980s.

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