The new Android OS, Jelly Bean 4.3, finally started rolling out to select Android devices over the past week, after weeks of expectation, and while it’s definitely not as major an update as some would have liked, there are a few new features to talk about.
First up, there’s better graphics rendering thanks to OpenGLES 3.0, as well as simulated surround audio on specific models. Those two items will be a big plus for an increasing number of users who have been using an Android device, as they’ll help to make the whole experience more immersive.
The new version of the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10 will also be able to send a signal to a TV using Wireless Display (sorry older Nexus 7users). Of course, you’ll need a TV or a TV attachment that can receive the Wireless Display signal.
There are more practical additions, too. One such update is Dial Pad, which uses the same predictive technology for manually-entered phone numbers that Android uses when you’re entering text into an app: as you tap in numbers, suggested contacts will pop up on your screen, and if the right one pops up, you can tap on it to call.
For those sharing a device with other family members, you now have the ability to create and maintain restricted profiles. That means that if you occasionally let your kids use your tablet, you can create a profile for them that limits their access to certain content, and removes access to certain apps. In other words, parental controls are now available on your Android device at the system level.
There are also a lot of little things that will improve performance without calling a lot of attention to themselves, including: Wi-Fi location detection; faster user switching; improvements in the photo album UI; simplification of the initial device setup; better language support; and easier text input. Plus, the Bluetooth update will add Bluetooth Smart Support for low-energy devices like fitness sensors, as well as transmitting track data to Bluetooth-connected devices like car radios.
It’s not an extensive release, to be frank, and even so,some of the features won’t be available to those using slightly older hardware,which dampens the excitement even further. (As a user of the older Nexus 7, a lot of what’s new in Jelly Bean 4.3 just doesn’t apply to me…rats!) It almost makes you wonder if Google is starting to hold exciting new features back so that they can finally bump the name forward to Key Lime Pie with a bit of a splash.