The new Nexus devices Google announced on Monday will all ship running Android 4.2, a new flavor of Jelly Bean.
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Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was released at Google I/O back in June and has slowly, but surely, been making its way to new and existing devices. One of the hallmark features of Jelly Bean is what Google calls "Project Butter" -- which brings a much more responsive and fluid user experience to the device.
With Android 4.2, Google isn't offering up a new name -- instead, it's finessing Jelly Bean further.
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Here are some of the new features users can look forward to in Android 4.2:
- New Photo Sphere Camera -- Similar to the Panoramic mode Apple introduced in iOS 6, Google is introducing what it calls photo spheres to Jelly Bean 4.2. The "spheres" are shareable and can be added to Google Maps.
- Gesture Typing -- Google has overhauled the keyboard in Android 4.2 and added a stock SwiftKey-like input method. Like SwiftKey, users just glide their fingers across letters rather than having to type them one by one.
I'm an iPhone user, but when I use Android devices, I always install SwiftKey because it makes me a much faster typist. Having this sort of functionality as part of the stock Android experience is awesome.
- Multiple Users -- Tablets aren't just personal devices -- they are often shared between family members. The problem is, each person might have their own choice of apps, email accounts and other settings. With Android 4.2, Google is bringing multiple user profiles to the OS. Multi-user support will only work with Android tablets.
- Wireless TV Display -- Google is enabling AirPlay-like wireless video playback that will let users push content from a phone or tablet onto a TV. Sadly, Google isn't using DLNA and is instead going to require users to purchase a wireless display adaptor. Another difference is that content will be mirrored onto another device, rather than displayed as secondary screen.
- Daydream -- Google will allow users to customize what Android shows on the screen while a device is docked or idle. This means it can show photos or display the news.
- Expandable Notifications -- Android's notifications clearly "inspired" Apple when the company introduced the Notification Center in iOS 5. Turnabout is fair play because Google is now taking some cues from iOS 6 with its new actionable notifications. Android 4.2 will feature a new notifications shade and allow users to take action directly from that shade.
We won't know more about Android 4.2 until we get it on some test hardware -- but the improvements look great.
What's in a Name
I think it's telling that Google didn't change the name for Android 4.2. It's still Jelly Bean, just a more refined version of Jelly Bean. This is the best indicator yet that Android as a platform is becoming more stable.
This doesn't mean that the pace of innovation is slowing down -- but it does mean that the Android team is focusing more on finessing core features, rather than simply introducing more stuff.
Android 4.1 was the first version of the OS that felt really "complete." With 4.2, it looks like Google is focusing on the polish and the finish. That can only lead to better overall device and application experiences.
What parts of Android 4.2 are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.
Google Nexus 10
Starting at $399 (for 16GB), the Nexus 10 has an ultra-high-res 10-inch display, with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 -- even more pixels than the Apple iPad.
This story originally published on Mashable here.