A Look at Android 4.1

Sometimes, it's a good point to look at exactly what you're getting when you're talking about something. In this case, we're talking about Android 4.1, code named Jelly Bean.

Jelly Bean brings some interesting features to the table, so we decided to create this guide to bring you up to speed.

Note: at the time of this guide, 4.2 has come out, but there was enough changes that it will have a guide of its own. Thanks.

Speed is one of the top concerns of Jelly Bean. Everything is supposed to feel fast, fluid, and smooth. Each screen should be moved through like flipping through the pages of a well loved novel. There are some performance boosts, including faster responses when going between apps, as well as great rendering through the whole system. Vsync and triple buffering take care of that for you.

It's all about responsiveness as a whole. Jelly Bean is taking things to the next level by adding in reactive and uniform touch responses. Your device's CPU can be raised or lowered based on how you're interacting with your device. How cool is that?

It gets better, of course.

Accessibility

Accessibility has been a hot button issue in Planet Android land, for good reason. Open access to everyone is very important, and it would definitely make waves for Android to lead the way to a new era of accessibility in 2013 and beyond.

Jelly Bean lets blind users use Gesture Mode to navigate around the entire user interface -- coupled with speech output, of course.

For people that have a hard time seeing the screen's text due to small fonts, you can enlarge instantly. What more could you want than that?

Actually, a screenreader would be nice. Meet TalkBack, a screenreader for Android that supports gestures to the fullest. There's also BrailleBack, which gives better accessibility options in the Braille category.

Android Beam also makes a big splash. You can easily share all of your photos and videos. To activate Beam, you can just pair your phone or tablet to any Bluetooth enabled device that supports Simple Secure Pairing -- just tap the devices together to activate the magic.

There's better support for USB audio docks, something that many Android users have been looking forward.

The browser got a major update in Jelly Bean, focusing hard on HTML5. It's the new web standard and many sites are switching to HTML5 full stop. It's good to know that android will give the end user the ability to experience the full richness of HTML5 while they are on the go. HTML5 video support has been enhanced a great deal.

Calendar got an update as well -- content fades in and out, animations are there to remind you of important tasks, and you can quickly swipe through days. If you've given your event a specific color, it's going to keep that color on the phone.

The today button on the action bar will show you the events of the day -- and remind you of what's around the corner. You can even auto-email guests of events to let them know that you’re on your way to a particular event.

Camera is looking great as well -- you can swipe from the camera viewfinder to review photos that you just took. You can also view photos in Gallery through filmstrip mode, flipping through photos with ease.

Data usage has gotten better than ever -- you can disable background data usage on certain Wi-Fi locations by making them mobile hotspots. Android will automatically detect this from then on, saving you precious data -- perfect for those that aren't on an unlimited data plan.

The keyboard is all about customization. Tired of QWERTY? Go QWERTZ, AZERTY, or even Dvorak!

This leads to messaging perfectly. The new notifications display gives you the full text of incoming SMS messages -- something that has long annoyed Android users for a while now. You will also see the full photo in a notification. This is great when you really don't want to have to open up the full app just to see a quick message.

Networking updates? Yes, please! Jelly Bean lets you make sure that you avoid bad Wi-Fi networks that have poor connections. You can stay on mobile data and get the best connection. Who really wants to deal with some wimpy data line when you have LTE, honestly?

There is a People app that truly makes your phone quite social. You can retrieve high resolution photos automatically and display them as you're looking through to find contacts on the fly. This helps you really connect with who is in your network and who isn't. You can also add new contacts much faster than before.

The phone app got some updating as well. When you miss a call, a new notification will easily let you call them right back or even send a quick SMS. This is really smooth, and we like that a great deal.

The best thing that you can do for yourself would be to check out the full list of features at Google Android headquarters, then see if your handset has an upgrade to 4.1 -- you will not regret it at all!