What’s New in Android 4.2

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First and foremost Android 4.2 is still “Jelly Bean”, not “Key Lime Pie”, not “Kit Kat”, not (insert your favorite dessert that starts with the letter “K” here). Instead, Android 4.2 is “a new flavor of Jelly Bean”.

This means a few things: most importantly that it’s an iterative build, not a major build; and it implies that all devices currently running Android 4.1.x (which is also “Jelly Bean”) will get the Android 4.2 upgrade — sooner or later.

Code names aside, what’s in 4.2? Google has gone on the record saying that Android 4.2 is “the simplest and smartest version of Android yet”. Why? Let’s take a look!

Camera

new camera

Forget panoramas! Try 360-degree immersion!

Google reworked the camera, adding an entirely new photo experience they’re calling “Photo Sphere“. Unlike the “old” panorama mode, Photo Sphere takes individual shots and wires them together to create “stunning 360-degree immersive experiences that you can share on Google+ with friends and family”.

Gesture Typing

Android 4.2 includes a re-worked keyboard that’s supposed to make typing “easier than ever” by letting you Swype “glide” your finger over the letters you want to type. When you’re done with a word just lift your finger and Android will automagically add a space for you.

new keyboard

That Swyping motion reminds me of something… hmmm

Like the previous iteration of the Jelly Bean keyboard, the “new flavor” keyboard anticipates and predicts your next word for super-fast “typing”.

They didn’t stop there. The dictionaries have been improved and are reportedly “more accurate and relevant”, and they improved the text-to-speech bits while they were at it.

Wireless Display

Who needs wires?

Android 4.2 is making watching content on your big-screen easier — without wires. You can watch movies, YouTube videos, or any of your Android’s screen on any HDTV. If your TV supports the Miracast standard you’re all set, if not all you need is a wireless display for your TV.

This reminds us a of the ill-fated Nexus Q.

Multi-User Support

Keep your grubby little fingers offa my homescreen!

You know what I hate? Handing my tablet over to one of my kids to keep them entertained “for a few minutes” only to discover that their “entertainment” was changing my wallpaper, rearranging my icons, and messing up my tablet!  No more!

In Android 4.2 you can now set up multiple users, so everybody can have their own space. They can set their wall own homescreen and wallpaper, widgets and apps, and they can even have individual high scores and levels on their games. (It sounds like each user will have to buy their own copy of apps, but this has yet to be confirmed.)

Alas, this feature is for tablets only — at least until the custom ROMmers get ahold of it!

Daydream

Just a big clock? Not anymore!

If you’ve got a dock for your phone or tablet you’re probably under-impressed by the fact that, when docked, your device is essentially a “big desk-clock”. Android 4.2’s “Daydream feature” lets you display your photo albums or even news from Google Currents and “more”. Not only that, apparently this feature works when docked or when “idle” — though we’re not quite certain what “idle” means.

Google Now

Google Now — even more “smart”

Google Now got a HUGE update. It can now tell you more information about flights, hotels, restaurant reservations, events, shipped packages, movies, concerts, stocks, developing and breaking news stories, and even nearby attractions and photo spots.

Google Search


For Android 4.2, Google Search gets a new look and is powered by something they’re calling Knowledge Graph, which tries to give you “a precise answer” to all your questions.

Wireless Charging Standard?

The Nexus 4 includes wireless charging (which some of us at Pocketnow think is über-cool and others think is a big yawn). Regardless, it stands to reason that extra bits were added to Android codebase to enable and control the wireless charging components tucked inside the Nexus 4. This could potentially speed adoption of charging without wires, and make it more of a standard among Android-powered devices. Curiously, the Nexus 10 tablet makes no mention of wireless charging.

Conclusions

We thought it odd that Google “cancelled” their press event, rather than “postponing” it, now we know why: they decided to announce everything via press releases instead. We would have loved to see all these items in action at the press event, but we’ll make due with what we got.

Android 4.2, though not the “K-named” version that many of us were expecting, does include a bunch of new features, upgrades, and exciting tidbits. The Nexus 4 is going to be an interesting device (and with 320 ppi it’s on my “must buy” list).

What about you? Are you happy with what Google put into 4.2 or do you think they missed something? What’s your favorite new feature? Let us know in the comments!

Sources: Android Official Blog, Android.com

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.