Google Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is on the way. It’s the operating system that will ship on the Nexus 10 tablet and Nexus 4 smartphone, and Android 4.2 should be available for other devices soon.
While you might think this is a minor update, since Google is keeping the Jelly Bean moniker, there are a number of big changes in this release.
Here are some of the things that are new:
- Photo Sphere camera lets you snap photos and by moving up and down, left and right to create giant panoramas.
- The Android 4.2 keyboard now supports Swype-style gesture-based text input. Slide your fingers from key to key to enter text without lifting your fingers from the screen.
- There’s a new quick settings area in the notification pull-down menu. Tap the icon and you get toggles for brightness, wireless, and other settings.
- Improved text prediction let Android guess the next word, allowing you to compose entire sentences just by tapping the suggestions.
- Android now supports multiple users on the same device with user accounts. Each user can create their own homescreen and keep their own app and game settings, scores, and other data. For now the multi-user accounts will only be available on tablets.
- There’s support for streaming content to a TV or other display with a wireless HDMI adapter.
- The new Daydream feature is basically a screen savor… that grabs pictures from your photo albums, news from Google Currents, and other “useful and delightful” information when your device is docked or idle.
- You can add widgets to the lock screen to view a camera or launch some apps (like the camera) without first unlocking your device.
Google is also improving Google Now by adding the ability to track packages, view upcoming movie details, and other information. It can also monitor your Gmail account for flight or hotel information or other travel plans. It will send you reminders of events if you’ve bought tickets. Kind of creepy… kind of awesome.