First Thoughts on Jelly Bean

Thanks to the ClockworkMod team I had a very easy, painless way to install Jelly Bean. I was an idiot though, and in spite of backing up my ICS ROM I forgot to enable root keeper, thus I lost root. Good news, the main reason I had root was to allow 3G Video Chat over Talk which seems to be working on this Jelly Bean build, so no problems.

Jelly Bean:

Screenshot_2012-06-27-23-57-44

jb1jb2


Speed:

Project Butter lives up to its name. The animations and generally moving around the OS is buttery smooth. I still saw some stutters, but it was NOT moving around in the OS, it was within apps, which I think Project Butter can’t do much about.

Another example of the increased speed: EVEN with the Galaxy Nexus, if I used the “Nexus” live wall paper (with the pulse lights that run across the screen), I’d notice a drop in frame rate while moving around. Now? Smooth. This comes at a cost though: one of the 3 ways that things are kept smooth is by prioritizing touch and ramping up CPU speed. Battery life will suffer.

Video would do this better justice, but I don’t have time to make a video at the moment. In addition to speed, new animations are present throughout the OS (things seem to “minimize” to the bottom or “fall down” from the top).

New Notification Shade

notification-drawer

It’s great. I love the gradual evolution of the notification shade. I can see WHAT Gmail messages I have at a glance from the lock screen. You can see my account email is up there, so if you have multiple Gmail addresses I’m sure they’d be separated appropriately.

Another feature which I can’t believe we didn’t have before: the ability to turn notifications on/off from the OS side. At present if you have the Facebook app installed and want to change whether or not you get notifications, you have to into the Facebook app. With iOS5 and the introduction of notifications, you had the ability to turn notifications off from the iOS settings menu. Now you can do the same in Android 4.1. Unlike iOS, there’s no one place where you can quickly turn notifications on/off for each app: instead you have to go into Settings > Apps > and you’ll see the option to set notifications on/off. What’s even better is that you can turn notifications on/off from within the notification badge in the app drawer by long pressing.

The weather and notice about “2 cards” is something related to Google Now which I’ll get into below:

Google Now

google-nexus-s

Remember when Android phones had four soft touch buttons? The best part was the persistent search button. (see the Nexus S image above, 2nd button on the right). If you were to hold it down you’d activate Voice Actions (and say things like, “Navigate to” or “Map of” or “send text message to”). When ICS launched with the Galaxy Nexus, I sorely missed this ability.

We were instead given a persistent search bar at the top of the Android “desktop,” and if you were in Gmail or some other app, you’d have to exit the app by hitting Home and then hitting the search bar’s little mic to perform actions.

In a word, ICS was a step backward when it came to how easily one can activate Voice Actions. Jelly Bean fixes this.

Google Now is an evolution of Voice Actions. It’s not Siri, it’s different.

You can bring up Google Now (or the ability to search) by swiping up from the bottom (like you swipe down from the top to bring down the notification drawer). This can be done from the lock screen as well as any app.

You bring it up, and it looks like this:

Screenshot_2012-06-28-08-18-14

Weather is a card that can pop up anytime your location changes throughout the day, or you can set it up to show just in the morning, or in the evening as well to forecast next day’s weather. You can ask “what’s the weather in …” and not only will this weather card show up, but text to speech will read the forecast for you.

I can ask…

Screenshot_2012-06-28-11-46-46

The problem? I don’t live in Houston. I don’t know if this is a bug that’s not worked out yet in Jelly Bean, or if this is what I have to deal with. It doesn’t happen when I search for pizza:

Screenshot_2012-06-28-11-51-01

So it works when I search for pizza. By the way the reason it went out of it’s why to show me Lou Malnati’s is because they’re in my Google Contacts ;-). So why does it search Houston with a query for coffee? or Thai food? But if I say “show me Thai” without using the word Area, then results are around my home. Buggy!

Another weird bug is I can’t see any of my Google Latitude friends. That’s annoying. I’m not using software that’s finished, but if the OTA is set to drop in a matter of weeks this is troubling. Why would Latitude break?

Intelligence not quite Siri

This is ALMOST like Siri. Once you’re in “Google Now” you can even say “Google ….” But Google Now is not that intelligent, it’s really just an evolution of Google Voice Actions. There are a limited category of cards.

Cards available include: Traffic, Weather, Public transit, Next Appointment, Places, Flights, Sports, Translation, Currency and “Time Back Home". Each card has its own settings.

cards00cards01cards03

(By the way, since I live in Chicago, the top of my Google Now has a cool picture with some Chicago skyscrapers, the El, and Navy Pier).

chicago-backdrop

So for things that aren’t “card enabled” you will get general Google.com search results instead. It’s at that point that Google’s Knowledge Engine may present you with a search box you may have seen in recent Google.com searches. For example, “who is Brad Pitt?” will not have a card, it will be a Google Search instead.

What I can say is Google’s ability to understand your speech has vastly improved. I’ll have more to say after I use it some more.

Well I have to get to work soon. I’m going to use this build as my primary ROM because I don’t want to redo everything with ICS. I’m going to wait for Jelly Bean to hit the official Factory Image page on the Google Developer page.

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