Android Jelly Bean Updates Starting to Appear on Smartphones

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ smartphone is the first to get the new Android Jelly Bean OS from the factory, but other smartphone models are in the pipeline for updates soon, Google says.

The new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system is now officially available on the first devices to get the latest release of the mobile platform, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus HSPA+, or Evolved High-Speed Packet Access, smartphone.

Coming just a few weeks after its big splash in late June at Google's I/O Developer's Conference, the rollout of the new phones with the latest Android release and its broad new features was announced in a Google+ blog post touting the development.

Owners of older Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ devices that are running previous versions of Android will soon receive messages on their handsets advising them that the updated code is available for download and installation, according to the post.

Users of other Android models of phones will also soon receive news of available updates as they continue to be rolled out, according to Google+. "Up next for Jelly Bean: all Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, Motorola Xoom and, of course, Nexus 7, which will ship with Jelly Bean later this month," the blog post reported.

Jelly Bean includes a change that is reminiscent of Apple's Siri voice-activated search, which allows users to speak voice commands into the device instead of typing into the keyboard. Also new to Android 4.1 is Google Now, which can provide users with the information they need on the fly, according to Google+. "Google Now tells you today€™s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work or your favorite team's score as they€™re playing. There€™s no digging required: Cards appear at the moment you need them most,€ according to Google.

Enhancements to Jelly Bean also include improved performance, added search capabilities, a more flexible way to arrange application icons on the home screen, voice typing that can be done offline and an improved notifications interface that lets users respond to calendar reminders, emails and texts without having to open each of those applications, according to earlier eWEEK reports.

The new Galaxy Nexus HSPA+ phones are now on sale for $349 in the Google Play store, with shipping dates of one to two weeks, according to the site.

In the mobile operating system market, Google is in a fierce fight with Apple and its iOS platform, which powers both the iPhone and the iPad. While Google is making improvements to Android, Apple is ramping up for the release of iOS 6, which not only offers dozens of new features, but will also offer its own maps application, which will replace Google Maps.

The two companies have plenty to fight for in the coming months. A May report found that iOS and Android together control about 82 percent of the smartphone market in the first quarter of 2012. While Google has managed its marketing share with many different devices, Apple is holding steady with just its own devices.