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In addition to unveiling the Nexus 4 phone and Nexus 10 tablet, Google released details on Android 4.2. Advertised as “a new flavor of Jelly Bean,” some people are under the impression that this is a minor update to Google’s mobile operating system since it’s not getting a unique codename. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Android 4.2 has several significant updates. Here are five major features in Google’s latest OS.
- Miracast: This is Android’s equivalent of Apple’s AirPlay, but with potentially broader support. It allows users of Android phones and tablets to wirelessly display their content on televisions. This is fantastic for games, movies, and
BrazzersTV shows. Initially, this feature will require a separate box that plugs into a TV’s HDMI port, but there will be upcoming televisions and boxes with Mircast support built in. Enterprising game developers will want to take advantage of Miracast’s independent screen use, allowing the phone/tablet to serve as the controller while the action takes place on a television.
- Gesture Typing: As a Swype user, this is the feature I’m looking forward to the most. Gesture Typing is Google’s take on gesture-based keyboard-entry. It allows Android users to trace words on screen. It also uses a prediction engine, bringing up possible words you might use next. Last week I was jazzed to learn about SwiftKey Flow, which offers these same features, but I rather not have to rely on a third-party keyboard at all. With Gesture Typing, there’s a good chance that the stock Android keyboard will have everything I want.
- Improved Camera Software: This has long been a weakness with stock Android. Tests have shown that two phones using the same optics will produce different results, with images from phones running vanilla Android coming out worse than those from phones running third-party software. Given the popularity of mobile-phone photography, that’s an inexcusable deficiency. In addition to improved image quality, the new camera software has been tweaked for easier one-handed use.
- Multiuser Support: This is a tablet-exclusive feature that’s great for families or households with multiple Android tablet users. Using a simple login system, Android tablets can be customize so that each user has their own unique apps, widgets, backgrounds, and more. While I personally detest sharing my consumer electronics (I consider them extensions of my arm…and soul), I appreciate how useful this feature is for families.
- Lockscreen Widgets: Many Android fans point to widgets as one of the biggest advantages Google’s OS has over Apple iOS. Widgets will be even more useful in Android 4.2, since they can be placed on the lockscreen. Being able to see information without having to unlock your phone is a wonderfully convenient feature. Some Android fanboys believe that widgets on the lockscreen also negates the advantage Windows Phone has with its live tiles. While I wouldn’t go that far (live tiles are pretty cool), this is an undeniably useful addition.
Those are just some of the new features found in Android 4.2. How do you guys and dolls feel about the latest and greatest in Google’s new OS? What’s the coolest new feature in your opinion? Leave a comment and let me know (please!).