Android 4.2 is still called Jelly Bean, but it comes with many new features
Don’t get confused by the fact that despite the version number bump, Android 4.2 is still being referred to as Jelly Bean (like 4.1, its predecessor). There are many new things packed inside Google’s latest iteration of its mobile operating system. Let’s dive right in.
This is a way of taking pictures that Google says was inspired by Street View for Google Maps. Basically, it’s a Panorama mode on steroids, allowing you to pan vertically as well as horizontally while snapping multiple pictures that will then get automagically stitched into one. The result can be viewed (and yes, navigated around) in Android 4.2, on Google+, or you can add it to Google Maps “for the world to see”. And because the images are basically just JPEGs with some added XML, in theory anyone can easily write a viewer for these Photo Spheres.
You can see some Photo Spheres here.
Since Google had already added SwiftKey-like prediction to the built-in Android keyboard, all that was left to do was… you guessed it – Swype! Well, Swype-like gestures are now possible with the default keyboard that Android 4.2 comes with.
Multiple users for tablets
It’s been rumored to come, and it is here. You can now have more than one user on an Android tablet running 4.2. This may have been the most gigantic omission in terms of tablet software, and Android’s fixed it before iOS (probably influenced by the recent launch of tablets with Windows 8, which obviously has this functionality too).
Fast switching between users (without rebooting) is possible, and each user can have her or his own homescreen, background, widgets, apps and games.
Android 4.2 has built-in support for the Miracast wireless display standard, that will soon get shipped into many new TVs. It will allow you to share what’s on your mobile device to your TV or a wireless display adapter for your TV effortlessly.
Google’s added a ‘screen saver’ mode to Android 4.2, which is called Daydream. It shows you useful or fun things on the screen when your device is idle or docked. Photo albums and Google Currents news are supported, along with other (unnamed for now) stuff.
Google Now improvements
Google Now has gotten a few updates too. It can now monitor Gmail for relevant content such as flight numbers. Hotel and restaurant reservations as well as shipping details are presented as cards now too. Nearby attractions, interesting photo spots, movie times at theaters nearby, or even concerts by your favorite artists also show up as cards in the new Google Now.