Google Jelly Bean Launch

Android users envious of the iPhone 4s can finally chortle over their own nifty new OS as Google announced its new version of Android, called “Jelly Bean”. Let’s take a look at some of the features.

Google Now

“Perhaps the most important new feature in Jelly Bean is Google Now, the voice-powered search assistant that appears to be Android’s answer to Siri.”

The Google Now feature alone almost guarantees the OS an enthusiastic welcome. According to Business Insider’s reviewer Steve Kovach, “Google Now fills in all the gaps left by Siri, and does pretty much everything else a whole lot better. This is how search should work on mobile devices.”

The Independent’s Alex Masters digs into why Google Now is so much better. “It is a kind of self aware personal organizer and assistant, designed to serve up useful information based on your location and behavior. It sounds pretty ominous, but it’s actually quite brilliant. By analyzing your search terms and cross-referencing them with your calendar and current location, Google Now provides an array of useful information without any effort on your part.”

Google Now is a tough act to follow, but the rest of Jelly Bean does not appear to disappoint.

Project Butter

In an effort to make the user experience smoother and faster, Google has implemented something they call “Project Butter,” improving speed, navigation, and notifications all using excellent animations. Kovach deems it “just as good as the iPhone.”

Offline Accessibility

Voice recognition, already one of the best of its kind, is now available in offline mode, no longer requiring access to Google’s servers to work properly. And Google has added an offline version of Google Maps, allowing you to download an entire city or region to access without paying data fees.

Speaking of data fees, it’s definitely worth noting that Jelly Bean allows you to put a limit (with a warning) on how much data you use each month. You can even cap data usage on individual programs, or set your phone not to consume data in background applications. With the increasing penetration of Wi-Fi in homes, offices and public venues, you might be able to get away with a very small data plan. (Nice to have a developer take an interest in saving us money!)

While the new and improved OS certainly sounds like an Android fan’s dream come true, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. The fact is that Google and its hardware and carrier partners are notoriously bad at providing timely updates. If their past performance is any indication, it could be a several months before we experience the delights of Jelly Bean.

Case in point, if you’re still waiting for Ice Cream Sandwich, you can find the latest upgrade status for your device at: Android 4.0 upgrade list; it’s always kept up to date with the most current info available for all phones and tablets.