By Joe Levi | July 30, 2013 11:36 AM
Android 4.3 wasn’t announced all that long ago, and it’s still making its way across the internet to update phones and tablets over the air. Some of us hoped we’d see some mention of Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie when Android 4.3 was announced, but we didn’t — or did we?
On the surface, Android 4.3, “a sweeter flavor of Jelly Bean“, could easily be mistaken for any other version of Jelly Bean. However, a lot has changed under the hood. What’s new? What has been improved? And what does this tell us about Key Lime Pie? Let’s dive right in!
Multi-user support with restricted profiles
If you’re using an Android-powered tablet, you’ve probably had multi-user support for some time now. (If you’re wondering why Android-powered smartphones don’t have multi-user support, check out Stephen Schenck‘s article.)
User-switching, however, wasn’t what anyone would call “quick”. That’s changed with Android 4.3. Also, you can now restrict app usage and content consumption (in apps that support the feature) with the 4.3 update.
For example, a parent can be the primary user on their tablet, and have profiles set up for each family member with permissions and restrictions set up accordingly.
This tells us that Android is moving toward an environment that encourages users to have their own profile, and by extension, their own Google Account.
The foundation is almost complete to bring truly useful and completely user-friendly fast-user-switching to our tablets. Watch for more improvements to this with Key Lime Pie.
Some Android-powered devices (including the Nexus 4) have the hardware to support Bluetooth 4.0 and all the low-energy features that will unlock the “Internet of things” and a whole bunch of smart devices that you probably haven’t heard of yet.
Until Android 4.3, device manufacturers had to include their own Bluetooth stack to enable Bluetooth 4. Now, if your device has the requisite hardware and is running Android 4.3, you’ll be able to get all the advantages of Bluetooth Low Energy, including compatibility with fitness sensors like heart rate monitors, pedometers, and even glucose monitors; and environmental sensors that measure air quality, thermometers, temperature alert devices, water alert devices, barometers, and more.
But Bluetooth Low Energy isn’t the only way that Bluetooth was improved in Android 4.3. AVRCP 1.3 support means your Android can now share song and artist names with your car stereo and other devices, and exposes more information from your smartphone or tablet.
Key Lime Pie, no doubt, will continue with these improvements, helping your Android-powered device be the central hub for all the smart-devices around you — and share even more useful information with them in the process.
If there was any doubt that our phones and tablets were becoming our personal entertainment devices, that uncertainly should be no longer now that we’re seeing more of what Android can do.
Android 4.3 brings support for ”virtual surround sound” (on devices with compatible hardware) to make your music, games, and movies sound even better and more true-to-life.
Games and other apps should be significantly more realistic while being less demanding on your hardware thanks to OpenGL ES 3.0 support.
Video can be delivered more securely with a new DRM layer, so apps like Netflix and Hulu will be able to stream video in 1080p HD to smartphones and tablets without corporate executives getting their knickers in a twist about how to secure content delivery.
While I’m not a fan of DRM per se, these moves all indicate that Google is positioning Android to be your all-in-one entertainment solution. It will handle your gaming, your music, and your TV and movies, all in the palm of your hand.
Some people didn’t like the camera “improvements” that came with the last few versions of Jelly Bean. Not to worry, even more improvements have been made! The UI is simpler and easier to use, and seems quite a bit faster, especially when rotating from portrait to landscape orientation, and back again.
PhotoSpheres have also been improved. Taking them should be faster, and the manner in which they’re stitched together should reduce the number of “floating heads” that we’ve seen in some images taken with this technology.
This tells us that using Android to capture our lives and interactions with our friends, family, and the world around us will continue to improve with Key Lime Pie.
While we didn’t see much done to the core UI having to do with “cards”, we’re seeing more apps get the “card” treatment. We still suspect Key Lime Pie will feature a much more “card”-based UI than what we’ve seen in the past.
Last, but certainly not least, Google built-in or changed a whole bunch of security features with Android 4.3. These included fixes for various vulnerabilities, removal of setuid programs from the /system folder, better application key protection, and we can now restrict apps’ access to certain permissions on a per-app basis. Key Lime Pie will be the most secure version of Android to-date.