Sunday, 18 November 2012

Android 4.2. What does the new flavour of Jelly Bean taste like?

All the Nexus faithful have received the fruits from their Google labour and have had a taste of the new flavour of jelly bean (except the Nexus S, you have lost support). Including me with my Nexus 7. What's new and what is worth the update? All will be revealed.

The Good: Multi User Support
For most households, you share the one tablet. It could be your remote and TV guide on the coffee table or just the small computer that you all share for surfing the web and playing games. Now 4.2 has multi user log in. This is like your home computer where each person has their account with their own passwords, their own home screen and apps. Now this is on the tablet edition only which is a good move for Android as not many people share their phones. This works very well as most phones have dual or quad core processors to handle the heftyness of many homes on one tablet. Each person has their own gmail and gcal synced without access to the other persons Google accounts. It is a good feature to have standard rather than with a root and rom.

The Bad: Swipe/Swype Keyboard
If you have a Samsung Phone, you have Swype keyboard built into the touchwiz skin. If not you may have used the swiftkey app from the store. If you haven't used these apps, I will explain what a swipe keyboard is. It is a new version of predictive texting. You swipe your finger over the letters you want in order and the phone will work out what word you mean. It is a rather cool feature but is rather gimmicky unless you constantly use it and the swipe interface becomes second nature. I have found the swipe keyboard apps on Android to be rather in your face and hard to use. Their predictive systems are very good which does make up for the clunky look. On 4.2, this is built into the OS and looks like the original keyboard so it does not look clunky or intrusive. It is so non intrusive that you don't even know that it is there. The other main difference to this keyboard than the apps is that the prediction hovers above your finger. Do I personally like this? No, not at all. It hides the keyboard above your finger and is rather distracting. I haven't used the swipe keyboard since I first tried it on the update but I will probably not use it.

Other Features and Bugs
Daydream is a feature which I have not been able to get to work. It supposed to give you a photo frame/table style thing when you plug it into a dock or charger. I can preview it but I never have got it to work in the wild. I will update you when I do get it to work. The photos get thrown onto the table and you can move them and swipe them away. It is a cool feature if it worked. I will get a dock and see if that works too.
Airplay for Android has been updated so that you can stream your whole screen to you TV with an adapter (HTC Media Link) rather than just your videos and pictures. Needs to be tested and needs to be a cheap adapter for it to be useful.
Actionable Notifications is a small feature which is okay. The expandable notification on jelly bean 4.1 was a great feature for quick email view. Now if you are going to be late for a meeting, you can send a message to the event organiser from the notification and snooze alarms too.
Quick options (Tablet Edition) is helpful. If you have a Samsung phone/tablet or a skin that has options in the notification bar, this will not be for you. On pure android, we now have a quick option bar if you swipe from top to bottom on the right side. You get wifi, bluetooth, user change, battery life, aeroplane mode, auto rotate, brightness and full settings button. It is rather good but if you just want the normal notification bar, you may get quick options by accident.
Bugs that will be fixed is that some Google apps (especially Google Now) sometimes makes the tablet freeze and reboot. This happens once every few days but always happens when you are leading the curve.

The Ugly: Lock Screen Widgets
This is such a silly idea. When you are in the lock screen, you can swipe left to add widgets to the lock screen so you can use information when you are not in the phone/tablet. Why do you want this? I only use the clock (standard) and I have tried the calendar but I don't really want someone who has got my tablet without me knowing looking at my calendar or my email. Who does? This is why it is The Ugly. If you want to use this feature, please do but you are reducing the security of your data very much.

So, to answer my question of What does the new flavour of Jelly Bean taste of? It tastes good. It has a slightly better fluidity than the old jelly bean with some cool features what you may have had before if you rooted your phone but has a few features and bugs that could be got rid of. Jelly Bean 4.2 tastes like a strawberry trifle. Vanilla taste with the smoothness of dream topping but has small fruit niche obstructions in the jelly that just hurts part of the experience.

More on Jelly Bean 4.2 and what you can do, click here

App of the Week: Google Play Music

This is a rather late post because of prior engagements buy hopefully these next few posts will be worth the wait as alot of Android has been released.
App of the week is rather belated to the UK market as the US gets all the good stuff in beta first. One of these Google apps I am still waiting for is Google Wallet but mobile payments is still not big in the UK. Google Play Music is the music version of Google Drive. That wraps it up in a sentence. There are only a few music cloud storage services available in the UK for android including Amazon (free) and Spotify (Premium £9.99). Cloud music player services is a place where you store your music online and you stream it through the app on your device. With Amazon you only have space for 250 of your own music library and you have to by the rest on the Amazon MP3 store which is annoying as most peoples music collection is over 250 songs and no one wants to buy your music again.
Google Play music blows Amazon out of the water with space for 20,000 of your own songs and songs bought from the Play Store. So how do you set it up? Well you go onto the Play store with your PC or Mac and you need to follow this link. Then you will download the application for the computer and drag and drop your music in bulk onto the application and it will all be stored in the cloud. So it is very easy to set up and put your music online. You do not need to put it in special folders or have all the tags for the albums or artists on there. The application finds the song name, artist, album, album art and genre. I only noticed this when I went to the cloud player and saw all my music in the right albums with 90% of the album art. Some of my obscure and collection albums did not have cover art but they were recognized as an album which is very good as I have found that some players will not recognize it at all.
What can you use the Player on? You can use a PC, Mac, Linux and Chromebook through a browser. Also there is a dedicated app on the Android OS from Ice Cream Sandwich and up. You can download the app from the Play Store/Market and you may have to manually download the update to use the cloud facilities.
The web app is easy to use and has all the covers set up like iTunes on a long tiled list with a search bar and your general functions. This goes the same for the mobile version. It is very good indeed. Easy to use and very simple. Google does this with their services. Very complicated servers and programmes make up a very easy and seamless service that just works every time.
So should you download this app? Well it is already on the operating system so you might as well use it. This app is great for people who do not have expandable memory on their phone and use their phone/tablet as their MP3 player. And it is much better than Amazon and much cheaper than the premium spotify service

Download now from the Google Play Store