Three features we’re most excited about for Android 4.2
To start this piece off I’ll let you know a bit about how it came about. We wanted to write something up on Android 4.2, but each of us wanted to have an input. That’s why myself, Bob Burgess and Adrian Mar have contributed to this post, each pointing out one of our favourite features that we can’t wait to experience in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
LOCKSCREEN WIDGETS & QUICK SETTINGS
For anyone who’s asked me what I love about Android you’d know that I’m a huge fan of widgets. While I don’t currently have many widgets on my current set-up, I’m a huge fan of the options that widgets give us. We can customize our phones however we like. With apps like Minimalistic Text and Missed It! we can even get updates about relevant information that we choose on any of our homescreens. With other widgets for news readers, social networks, planners and calendars we can get updated on pretty much everything and everything that matters to us – without even opening an app.
That’s why I love widgets and that’s why I think this is a fantastic new addition to the OS. With the new ability to add widgets to the lockscreen it gives all Android users access to something that we’ve been pining over for a long time. Having your calendar, news updates or other information accessible with the hit of one button is damn good. The follow image is courtesy of The Verge, you can check out the full video here.
Another feature that I’m particularly fond of is the new quick settings. While Nexus devices have previously opted to not go for this kind of thing, many OEMs have slapped quick settings into their skin of the notification bar. This would usually be as an extra part of the top of the bar, taking up actual notification space. Either Google wanted to be different, or they just think this way is better but they’ve included a new way to manage your quick settings.
While we originally thought that it could be a double swipe, we’ve now realised that it is available via a two-finger swipe down from the top of the screen or click a button in the notifications tray – much like the ‘clear all’ or ‘settings’ buttons. This is a great way for us power users to control our phone and make sure that we’re not wasting any unnecessary juice. It’s also just generally a great way to give us more control of our phone and I definitely welcome it.
When we suggested this format for this article I instantly wanted photo sphere, but being the good boy that I am I offered it to the other writers first. Then deviously manipulated them till I got it back, mwahahahaha.
I love taking photographs, and whilst I confess my equipment is hardly sophisticated, that doesn’t stop be from fiddling and trying new things, occasionally with good results. I also love the panorama function on my One X, and is the main reason I’ll quickly whip out my phone to shoot a picture rather than use my dedicated point and shoot (the other is geotagging). If you want to see my results, just wait for my One X review to pop up in a day or two. I expect Photo Sphere will bhave me reaching for my phone all the more often, because it’s just so cool.
So in case you haven’t heard, here’s the low-down on Photo Sphere. It’s similar to the panorama function available on some Android phones, as well as other phones including the iPhone 5. It effectively stitches several photographs together to create one continuous image. Photo Sphere improves on that formula in several significant, and awesome, ways. Firstly unlike other panorama modes, it does not have a limit to the number of images which may be stitched together, which effectively limits the field of view. This means that you can do a full 360 degrees if you want. Secondly it does not limit the panning of the camera to only left or right, but also allows up and down. Put that together with the first change and you have the ability to create a complete “sphere” of photos, hence the name. This is basically a Google Street-View style look-anywhere sphere of images, only taken with your phone.
Not quite sure that I mean? Perhaps this photo posted on Google+ will help? Still no? What about this video?
If you don’t think that’s cool, then you have my permission to never read anything I write again, because our brains clearly work on very different wavelengths.
My mind reels with what I can do with this. I’ve done a fair bit of travelling, and sometimes you find a place that just demands this kind of 360 degree view to really impress upon people how great it is. Trust me, trying to explain to your grandparents that the next 17 photos are all meant to be stitched together to give the full panorama doesn’t work very well. What about if you just got a new place, and you want to show it off? Yep, this’ll work well (after you clean it, of course)! What happens when you just painted your bedroom with an epic 4-wall (and ceiling) My Little Pony mural? You get the picture.
Finally, I really hope that Google truly taps the potential of this technology in terms of expanding upon Street View. Imagine if anyone, anywhere, could post their 360 degree Photo Sphere’s to Google Street View, which of course could be done easily using the GPS coordinates attached to the photo? Do that, and Google’s recent addition of places like the Amazon River and the Grand Canyon will seem like chicken feed.
Written by Bob Burgess.
“Google… What time is my flight to Sydney?”
How much do you value getting information off hand, pushed to you without even needing to ask?
If you’ve been running Android 4.1.x Jelly Bean, you probably already make use of Google Now – Google’s Android assistant that’s integrated into the speech enabled Google search app and presents you with cards giving you relevant information with a swipe upwards on your homescreen.
Google describes it as “Google Now gets you just the right information at just the right time.”
Personally, I’ve been using Google Now on my Nexus 7 to give me the up to date weather forecast as well as tell me how long it’ll take me to get to work, home or other regular places I visit in current traffic conditions. It’s been really useful having such information so easily on hand.
With the release of Android 4.2, Google Now gets a few new features which I certainly will value – right now I’m thinking of my overseas “holiday” next weekend. The cool new features that would help (if only I had Android 4.2 on my Nexus 7 already, or even that Nexus 4 or 10 I’m eyeing off right now) are flight information, hotel confirmations, and restaurant reservations I’ve booked. No need to trawl through my ever growing email inbox to find this information, Google Now would just pull it up as needed. How sick is that?
Other new information Google Now on Android 4.2 will present on cards are nearby attractions, interesting photo spots, movies times at nearby theaters or concerts by your favorite artists. I can’t wait to see these new additions, I just hope it allows us to filter out things we aren’t interested in and we get a lot of local Austrailan data into Google Now’s databases.
Bring it on I say!
One last one Google - “Google… what are tonight’s winning lotto numbers?”
Written by Adrian Mar.
What’s your favourite feature of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean that you’ve been waiting for?