If you’re one of those lucky Nexus owners out there, than you probably have already been enjoying the new features and fixes that came with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean for a couple of months now. But if you’re not a Nexus owner, we’ll fill you in on what you have been missing (and what you should expect in a future update). Below, you’ll find our quick overview of what came with the update:
Lock Screen: The first change you’ll notice on Android 4.2 is the redesigned lock screen. With the new lock screen, instead of sliding the lock button to the left to access the camera, you swipe the whole screen to the left. Why? Because when you swipe the screen to the right, you’ll have the ability to add widgets right on the lock screen itself.
As of right now, some of the available lock screen widgets include: calendar, digital clock, email, google+, messaging, and sound search. And this is only what is included with the stock ROM. If you please, you can download a whole bunch of apps that have compatible lock screen widgets.
Clock UI: I’ve been asking for a timer and stopwatch on the stock clock app for a really long time. In fact, I’ve done reviews on stopwatches and timers where I moaned and groaned about how there weren’t too many viable options available when it came to these apps. Well, someone at Google must have heard me (or the millions of other Android users) because these two apps are now included with Android 4.2. And they added a world clock as a bonus.
Day Dream: What is day dream? Just a fancy name for screen savers. With the latest version of Jelly Bean, you can enable day dreams to automatically launch when you plug in or dock your Android device. I use it when I dock my Nexus 4 to its wireless charger. Pretty neat feature.
Keyboard: With the new keyboard in Jelly Bean 4.2, you get the same great accuracy and text prediction as you did with 4.1, with a twist. Or should I say swipe. The new gesture keyboard works very similarly to the Swype app you may be familiar with. But instead of just allowing you to swipe across the keyboard and have it guess what your saying when you’re done swiping, it gives you real-time live predictions, which I’ve found to make the experience a little better.
Another (almost hidden) feature is the inclusion of a Emoji keyboard called “iWnn IME” in the settings. When you enable this input method, you get a list of emoticons that you can choose from. The best part about it is you can use this keyboard from any application, so you’re not stuck with just the emoji messaging alternative.
Quick Settings: Probably the most noticeable change that came with Android 4.2, quick settings are shortcuts to commonly used settings or toggles that you can access in the notification bar. You can simply drag the notification bar down with two fingers to go straight to the quick settings or drag down normally and tap the button on the top right.
The settings and toggles that are included in the quick settings are: brightness, settings, Wi-Fi, data usage, battery usage (with percentage), airplane mode, and Bluetooth. Unfortunately, with Android 4.2 (changed with 4.2.1) the quick settings are more shortcuts than they are actual toggles, so I’d still stick with a toggle widget for now.
Camera: The camera app has been updated to include a cool new 360 degree Panorama mode, as well as the inclusion of HDR (short for high dynamic range). These two improvements help the stock Android camera compete with the one found on the iPhone 5 (which also has HDR and Panorama). Other new additions to the camera app are the photo editing filters (similar to Instagram’s) which help you fine tune your pictures.
Other Features: Some of the other new features include security enhancements with the ability to verify apps (checks apps for viruses and malware before installation), turning on or off cell broadcasts, an extra column of apps in the app drawer, and the inclusion of Google Chrome as the default browser.