How to Get Android Jelly Bean Features Without Jelly Bean

So far most of what people are saying about Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is not only favorable but down-right complimentary. Comments like “Buttery Smooth”, and “super-fast” pepper articles detailing the changes to Google’s latest operating system. I can’t say that I disagree.

However, not all news is good news. We know that Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 owners already have access to Jelly Bean (or will within the next several days) and even the Nexus S and Motorola Xoom will be getting some Jelly Bean attention in a little while. But what about everyone else? What about those who have devices powered by Android, but restricted by carriers or handicapped by OEMs ? How can people like you participate in the goodness that is Jelly Bean?

Custom ROMs

Now that Jelly Bean has hit the AOSP it’s only a matter of time before some ROMmer out there is going to whip up a ROM for your phone or tablet. Whether or not it will be a “usable” is another discussion entirely. CyanogenMod 10, when it comes out, will likely be available for 37 or so devices, and chances are your device may be one of them. Patience.

What if you don’t want to unlock, root, and flash a custom ROM? Or what if there isn’t a “stable” ROM available for your device, can you still get some Jelly Bean?

Luckily, the answer is yes, but you’re going to have to go À la carte.


One very cool, but almost transparent part of Jelly Bean is the new keyboard and its fancy schmancy “bi-gram predictive magic” — I think that’s the official name. Essentially, when typing on the keyboard from Jelly Bean, unlike other keyboards, this one will try and figure out what the next word is that you’re going to type, and offer it as a suggestion. It does this by looking at the word that you just typed, and guessing at what the next one is likely going to be. It’s pretty good, but it’s not contextual, and it’s only bi-grams, not tri-grams (which would take a lot bigger matrix and more horsepower). The more “-grams” you get, the more accurate the predictions are.

Wanna give it a try? If you’re running Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3 or higher, you can! Grab the .apk from this link, and sideload it just like any other app.


Whether or not you choose to run a Live Wallpaper on your phone or tablet, it’s one of the things that sets Android apart from “the other guys”. If you’d like your non-Jelly-Bean device to run JB’s Live Wallapers, you guessed it, there’s an .apk for that! This link isn’t the LWPs from JellyBean, but it feels like the ones that are included… and it’ll run on Android 2.1 and up!

Want to try out the actual wallpapers? Check out this link.

Google Search

Another major take-away from Jelly Bean is the new “Siri-esque” search that Google built in. If you’re brave enough to try this out, you can get most of what Jelly Bean’s search give yous, and it works, most of the time. Want more details? They’re over here, but you’re probably going to need root to get it to work.

Google Now

The last neat feature I’ve got in the article is Google Now, you know, the cool utility that gives you information that you need to know, well, now, and does it in a pretty agenda/info-card display. (Anyone else see similarities with Windows Mobile’s Today screen, or is it just me?)

This one takes a bit more muscle and some heavy lifting, but if you’re running an ICS ROM based on the AOSP code, you can probably get away with it… with some caveats. I’ll let the post at XDA-Developers explain… but, in short, you can do it, if you really want to!


Are there more Jelly Beanie things you can do to your non-JB phone? Absolutely! Have we started to scratch the surface with this post? Not in the slightest, but it’s a start.

As we find more cool JB hacks we’ll let you know, so make sure you come back to Pocketnow often so you don’t miss out on what we find. On the other hand, if you’ve found something particularly awesome don’t hesitate to leave a comment or even contacting me directly.

Hold on tight, it’s about to get fun!

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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.