It was said earlier this year that Android is not known for providing its updates quickly. There are a number of Android phones (particularly those on contract plans from 2 years ago) that still run Gingerbread (2.3); few run Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and a tiny percent of the ICS crowd now has Jelly Bean. Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) has been available for Android users for a few months now, and has been downloaded by AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile customers. US Cellular was the last of five carriers to receive the Samsung Galaxy S3 when it became the hottest smartphone of the summer (and one of the hottest smartphones of the year, according to Business Insider). Now, US Cellular will be the last carrier to receive the Android 4.1 update. According to US Cellular, the update will come over-the-air and by USB download this Friday, December 21, 2012.
The Android 4.1 update will include (but is not limited to) the following features:
- Android Beam
- Project Butter
- Google Now
- Face Unlock
- New Text Languages
- Improved notifications
- Improved calling capabilities
- Text-to-speech function
Project Butter is a new form of testing by Google that prevents screen graphics and the central processing unit (CPU) from crashing – thus, slowing down the device. Google launched Project Butter in order to improve what many call “device lag,” the slowing down of an Android device when multiple operations are in full swing. The result of Project Butter is to make operations run more “smoothly” (hence, the name “Project Butter”) than ever before. TalkBack helps Android users access content and applications easily. Android Beam is a feature that has been common to Galaxy S3 users, and it works like “S Beam” to send photos and video to a friend or relative’s phone when the two phones are placed side by side.
Google Now is another feature with Jelly Bean that provides information “now,” right away before you ask for it. When you get up in the morning, you can look forward to a Google Weather card that tells you what the weather is “now”; when you head out on the highways and interstates, there is a Traffic Card that tells you what to expect for driving conditions “now,” at the moment you are on the highway. Other Now Cards consist of bus transits, plane flights, places (restaurants and stores that may interest you), sports (sports scores every minute), and currency and translation information for business and international travelers. Speaking a different language just turned easy with Google Now.
Face Unlock is a new feature that lets you gain access to your phone while in lockscreen mode by using your real-time portrait for access. This is a feature that many Android users will like, since it serves as an anti-theft feature that can prevent criminals from unlocking your screen. If you set the screen to unlock via face detection, thieves will not have as much fun with your phone – nor will they see the appeal in stealing it. Face Unlock will require you to take some time with the camera feature, since the best way to help your phone become “smart” in this area is to take numerous pictures with different appearances (clothing, hair styles, etc.) and poses. The more photos you take, the better this feature can become.
As a final note, there are eighteen new languages that can be accessed for texting, Thai, Persian, and Hindi among them. US Cellular customers, prepare for the best Android experience yet.