Google Android Jelly Bean OS: A test drive

We went hands-on with some of Jelly Bean's cooler features. Is this OS upgrade worth all the hype?

By Armando Rodriguez, PC World |  Software, Android, Google

The Camera app also gained a few new tricks, with new animations that occur every time you take a picture. Once you've taken a few shots, you can swipe the camera screen away to bring up your camera roll and view the images you have in your Gallery. This is much better than what we had in Ice Cream Sandwich, where you had to exit the Camera app to see photos you had previously taken.

Mobile Search

Google went all out when it came to mobile search on Jelly Bean.

You can access the new Google Now page at any time by swiping upwards on the Home icon in the navigation bar. Initially your Google Now page will be very plain, showing you places nearby that you might be interested in visiting as well as the local weather (which it gets by using your phone's GPS).

The more searches you do on your phone, the more Google Now will meet your needs.

To test this out, I searched for several things related to baseball and a sports section appeared on my Google Now page. If you don't like a section, you can turn it off from the settings menu. It's a very visual way of displaying basic information and it worked well--but I feel like it could do more with the information, and I hope Google Now continues to expand.

Voice Search

Voice Search has a much cleaner interface. You can now do voice input when you don't have a connection, and asking basic questions like "What's the capitol of Spain?" will bring up a card with an answer to your query.

If you aren't satisfied with your answer or if you want to know more, you can swipe away to the card to get to the familiar Google Search results screen. I tried asking a few questions and, after Google finally began to recognize my voice, I was able to get answers to almost everything I asked.

What It Did Wrong

While many things in Jelly Bean look and work well, I encountered a few quirks.

I noticed a strange ghosting, particularly while scrolling, that wasn't present in Ice Cream Sandwich. My guess is that this is the result of several new API's in Jelly Bean that are meant to smooth out text and graphics (to make them use less memory), but it's something that's noticeable when scrolling through webpages and other text-heavy content.

Another problem I found is one that's plagued Android for some time now: Fragmentation. With so few devices currently on Ice Cream Sandwich--and with many more phones currently waiting for their update--it seems unlikely that most phones out today (aside from the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S) will get the Jelly Bean update.

Jelly Bean may have solve a lot of performance issues in Android, but fragmentation will continue to be a problem. It seems unlikely that many developers will take advantage of any of Jelly Bean's new features, especially when most of their users will still be running Android Gingerbread or below.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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