Google has finally released the most 'advanced', popular and widely used mobile operating system - Android 4.1, Jelly Bean.
Improvements include a smoother and more responsive UI across the system, a home screen that automatically adapts to fit your content, a powerful predictive keyboard, richer and more interactive notifications, larger payload sizes for Android Beam sharing and much more.
A platform is nothing without an army of developers and APIs are what allows developers to 'use' the platform to deliver their content. Jelly Bean introduces some new APIs which include:
- Expandable notifications: Android 4.1 brings a major update to the Android notifications framework. Apps can now display larger, richer notifications to users that can be expanded and collapsed with a pinch. Users can now take actions directly from the notification shade, and notifications support new types of content, including photos.
- Android Beam: In Android 4.1, Android Beam makes it easier to share images, videos, or other payloads by leveraging Bluetooth for the data transfer.
- Bi-directional text support: Android 4.1 helps you to reach more users through support for for bi-directional text in TextView and EditText elements.
- Gesture mode: New APIs for accessibility services let you handle gestures and manage accessibility focus. Now you can traverse any element on the screen using gestures, accessories, you name it.
- Media codec access: Provides low-level access to platform hardware and software codecs.
- Wi-Fi Direct service discoverability: New API provides pre-associated service discovery letting apps get more information from nearby devices about the services they support, before they attempt to connect.
- Network bandwidth management: New API provides ability to detect metered networks, including tethering to a mobile hotspot.
Android 4.1 has also enhanced the way developers can deliver paid content to their customers without worrying unauthorised copying. Developers work very hard to bring great apps to us so there should be some kind of mechanism which ensure only paid customers get to use the content. Google is introducing 'App encryption'. From Jelly Bean and forward, paid apps in Google Play are encrypted with a device-specific key before they are delivered and stored on the device.
In order to save bandwidth and make updating smarter, Google is introducing smart app updates. For Android 2.3, Gingerbread devices and up, when there is a new version of an app in Google Play, only the parts of the app that changed are downloaded to users’ devices. On average, a smart app update is a third the size of a full apk update. This means your users save bandwidth and battery and the best part? You don’t have to do a thing. This is automatically enabled for all apps downloaded from Google Play.
In a nutshell Android has now become the benchmark of what a mobile OS should be with iOS and Windows Phone trying to catch up with it.