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Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean ReviewDigit Rating: Excellent4.5/5NAFeatures:NAPerformance:NAValue:NADesign:
- Smooth, fast UI response
- Excellent overall performance
- Search and Notification updates are huge improvements
- Offline voice dictation and maps
- Plenty of minor upgrades throughout
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- Browser has trouble with page formatting
- Google Now doesn't work well enough yet
- Upgrade schedule for new and existing devices is a huge question mark
Android continues to mature with Jelly Bean, a smooth, surprisingly comprehensive upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich that cements the smartphone platform's top-tier status.Powered By: http://www.91mobiles.com
Google Now, Search Upgrades, and Offline Dictation
One of the more significant upgrades is Google Now, which you can access via the search bar or by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, the latter of which is handy but takes a little practice (start below the screen and it works perfectly). Google Now uses your location history, email history, search history, and calendar to figure out exactly what you may be looking for and when you'll need it.
For example, if you're stepping off of a train and heading to your car, it will tell you how long it will take to get home given current traffic conditions. It can tell you're waiting for a bus and let you know when the next one is coming. Unfortunately, this didn't always work for me in practice. Google Now didn't seem to know the New York City subway exists, for example, and I had trouble cueing up relevant information at times.
More significantly, Google has also upgraded the way plain old search works. In addition to the usual voice and text input, the search window shows a series of cards with commonly accessed information. For our midtown location, I saw the local weather, the Madison Avenue bus schedule, and a number of cards representing local restaurants with photos, details, and the ability to check in.
As you run new search queries, Jelly Bean adds cards showing the results for each and stacks them so you can access them whenever you want. Search for Chinese food, and search shows you a series of nearby places in a stack; choose one, and it does a smooth animation over to Google Maps showing the location and more information. I had to hit Back several times to return to the results list, though. Tapping "Results List" on the map brought me to an entirely different page, so it seems Google still has a little work to do on the interface here. It's pretty impressive stuff nonetheless.
Offline voice typing lets you compose messages by speaking to the device even when it's not connected to the Internet—just speak and your words will appear on the screen. I found the offline voice typing worked exceedingly well, and it rarely missed a word I was saying. For now, this only works in English, but Google is working to add support for additional languages.
Notifications, Google Play, and Offline Maps
Notifications, which were already superior to what iOS offers, now include more information, and let you do more things. Starting with Jelly Bean, you can almost navigate the handset using just the notification tray. For example, you can expand and collapse each notification and perform basic tasks, such as previewing an incoming email, sending an email from a calendar request, seeing new Google+ or Foursquare updates, or dialing a phone number from a missed call.
Jelly Bean also brings proper Facebook contact integration. This takes an extra step, because you need to download and install the Facebook app first. Once you do, a Facebook item appears in the Settings page that lets you integrate Facebook contacts with the phone's address book. You still can't integrate Facebook's Events Calendar, but that's less of a problem.
With Google Play Movies & TV, you can browse, buy, and download media from Google's store. This actually appears as a default icon on the Nexus 7 tablet. On the Galaxy Nexus it's in the app drawer, along with additional icons for Play Books, Play Magazines, and Play Music. Google Play still needs more media partners, but it's a start. The YouTube app gets an upgrade, and it works better over Wi-Fi with a new buffering engine.
There's also more synergy with Android as a media platform now. For example, start watching a movie or reading a book on a tablet with Jelly Bean, and you can pick up where you left off on a smartphone with Jelly Bean. Individual apps like Amazon Kindle already do this, but the ability hasn't been OS-wide, as it is in Android 4.1.
As before, Android's third-party app support is robust. Google Play contains more than 400,000 apps, most of which should already work fine with Jelly Bean. One minor improvement: App updates can now be incremental, which improves download times.
For GPS, you still get free Google Maps Navigation (4 stars), which delivers excellent voice-enabled, turn-by-turn directions, as well as pedestrian maps, bike routes, public transit schedules, and more. Maps work offline as well—to enable this, you choose it from a pop-up menu, and then select a square area you want to make available offline. As you adjust the size of the map area, Jelly Bean estimates how much storage space this will take up. This is great, as it completely eliminates any caching issues with navigation in areas with poor signal strength. A square area that included all of NYC, Paterson (New Jersey), Hicksville (Long Island), and White Plains (NY) took up 44MB. But expanding the map out much further generated a "file size too large" error, which seems like a bizarre limitation.
Visit page three to read about Jelly Bean's Other Features, Comparisons and Conclusion...
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