Tuesday 30 October 2012

Google announces Android 4.2; brings photo sphere, gesture typing & improved Google Now

In addition to the new Nexus devices, Google has also announced an update to Jelly Bean in the form of Android 4.2. This is not a major Android release, thus it is carrying the Jelly Bean moniker, but it does pack several new features.

We have already seen some of these features in the past leaks like multiple user support, but there are many more about which we are hearing for the first time.

1: Photo Sphere camera:

Your panoramic photos are no longer just vertical or horizontal, by adding street view like technology to camera app on Android, Google now allows you to snap images in any direction and create Photo Spheres.

In Google’s words:
Up, down and all around you, it’s like no camera you’ve ever seen. With Android 4.2, snap pictures in every direction that come together into incredible, immersive photo spheres that put you right inside the scene. View your photo spheres right on your phone, share them on Google+ with your friends and family, or even add them to Google Maps for the world to see.

The Verge adds:
The camera prompts you to line up and take overlapping shots of a scene, which it then stitches together to make an immersive panorama — just like Street View. You can view the resulting image as a flat file, but Android 4.2 and Google+ have built-in Photo Sphere viewers that let you move things around. (The file format is just regular .jpg with some embedded XML, so anyone can build a viewer, not just Google.) It’s impressive stuff.

2: Gesture typing:

By adding Swype like functionality in stock Android keyboard, Google now allows to type by just gliding your fingers over letters. The stock Android keyboard will even predict the next word, similar to SwiftKey.

There are also improvements in text-to-speech and even the stock dictionary is more accurate.

In Google’s words:
Writing messages on the go is easier than ever with Gesture Typing – just glide your finger over the letters you want to type, and lift after each word. You don’t have to worry about spaces because they’re added automatically for you.
The keyboard can anticipate and predict the next word, so you can finish entire sentences just by selecting suggested words. Power through your messages like never before.
Android’s dictionaries are now more accurate and relevant. With improved text-to-speech capabilities, voice typing on Android is even better. It works even when you don’t have a data connection, so you can type with your voice everywhere you go.

3: Multiple users:

Android 4.2 is also introducing multiple users support. Now, every user of a shared tablet in a household can have their own space – own homescreen, background, widgets, apps and games. It also includes support for app data too, so the same game can support individual high scores and levels for different users.

You don’t even have to log-in or out and can just switch between users. This feature is only available on tablets.

In Google’s words:
It’s your fully customized tablet. And theirs, too. With support for multiple users, you can give each person their own space. Everyone can have their own homescreen, background, widgets, apps and games – even individual high scores and levels! And since Android is built with multitasking at its core, it’s a snap to switch between users – no need to log in and out. Available only on tablets.

4: Support for Miracast/ Enable wireless display

This new version of Android comes with default integration of Miracast wireless display standard. You can share video, YouTube content or for that matter anything from your phone/tablet to an HDTV. As most of the televisions don’t have Miracast support right now, you will have to purchase an adapter, which will allow you to share content.

In Google’s words:
Android 4.2 allows devices to enable wireless display. You can share movies, YouTube videos, and anything that’s on your screen on an HDTV. Just connect a wireless display adapter to any HDMI-enabled TV to mirror what’s on your screen quickly and easily.

5: Enhanced Google Now

In addition to already mentioned features Google is also improving Google Now with Android 4.2. Google Now will show even more cards in Android 4.2, like for flight information, restaurant reservation or shipping details.  Google Now will also alert you about nearby attractions or movies timing among other things.

In Google’s words:
We designed Google Now to make life simpler by giving you the right information at just the right time in easy to read cards, before you even ask. And the feedback has been awesome. So today we’re adding more cards that we hope you’ll find useful. Flight information, restaurant reservations, hotel confirmations and shipping details—how often have you found yourself wading through your email to get this information at the last moment? So next time you book a table for dinner, you’ll get a reminder with all the details without ever having to lift a finger. You’ll also get cards for nearby attractions, interesting photo spots, movies times at nearby theaters or concerts by your favorite artists.

Other features:


  • Daydream: Daydream lets your Android device display useful and delightful information when idle or docked.
  • Improved notifications: Now take actions directly from notification shade. Snooze an alarm or reply to email and more.
  • Lock-screen improvements: Widget support and the ability to swipe directly to camera
  • Pinch to Zoom in Gmail

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