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Android Jelly Bean review

Android 4.1 and Android 4.2 combine to make the ultimate Jelly Bean

Android Jelly Bean isn't a gigantic, innovative leap forward; Google acknowledges this by bumping the version number only slightly.

It's a bit like Apple's move from Mac OS X Leopard 10.5 to Snow Leopard 10.6 on the desktop: An operating system overhaul that tunes up what's under the hood rather than attempting to dazzle users with a volume of new features.

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We liked

Hokey name aside, "Project Butter" delivers the goods. Android is now fast, fluid and ready to go toe-to-toe with Apple on performance and features.

If this were the only new feature offered by Jelly Bean, it would be significant enough to justify the update, let alone consider an upgrade to a new handset that takes maximum advantage of it.

Notifications have always been one area where Android excelled over iOS, and the tweaks made in Jelly Bean only further widen that gap.

We're also big fans of mobile Chrome and very glad to see it's now the default browser.

We disliked

We don't actually dislike Google Now – it's a fascinating addition that promises to get better with time.

As it exists today, the feature is clearly intended for city dwellers more than suburbanites, so we'd like to see Google offer additional functionality to the millions living beyond city limits.

For all of its enhancements, Jelly Bean is still behind the times when it comes to the security of lost or stolen devices.

In addition to lacking remote features such as wipe or lock, Google has yet to offer something akin to Apple's Find My iPhone, which helps users locate a missing device.

Sure, there are alternatives available in Google Play, but they're more likely to be ignored by casual users there.

Verdict

This bit of nitpicking aside, Android Jelly Bean is strictly a win-win situation for those who can install it.

While time will tell if this tasty treat can ultimately remedy the platform's larger fragmentation problem, manufacturers and carriers have less reason than ever to load up devices with their own UI enhancements.

Android Jelly Bean is a thing of beauty, and should be a nice boost for Google's own Nexus-branded hardware. For those who have been on the fence, you'll definitely want to give Jelly Bean a look – this could be the version to finally sway you into Mountain View's camp.

Tech Specs

Product TypeOperating System
Brand NameAndroid
Software Sub TypeClient
Platform SupportedHandheld
Features Restricted profiles for tablets:
  • You can now limit access to apps and content at home and work
  • For parents, this means you can create parental controls and for retailers, you can turn their tablet into a kiosk

Bluetooth Smart support:

  • Bluetooth Smart minimizes power use while measuring and transmitting data for fitness sensors like Fitbit, Runtastic and other devices, making your phone or tablet more power efficient

Dial pad autocomplete:

  • Just start touching numbers or letters and the dial pad will automatically suggest numbers or names
Improved support for Hebrew and Arabic:
  • We've added more support for Hebrew and Arabic speakers with new builds for right­ to ­left layouts
Even more features:
  • For those of you looking to go deeper, here's an exhaustive list of all the updates found in Android 4.3, categorized for quick access to the changes
ManufacturerAndroid USA
Product NameJelly Bean v.4.3
Software NameJelly Bean v.4.3
Manufacturer Part Numberjelly-bean4.3
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.android-usa.com
Marketing InformationAn even sweeter Jelly Bean