back to article Android 4.1 Jelly Bean review

Only eight months have passed since I took a shufti at Ice Cream Sandwich, back then it was the new version 4.0 of the Android operating system for mobile devices. A few days ago, my Asus Google Nexus 7 tablet landed on the doormat. It's preinstalled with Jelly Bean, the ICS replacement and lends itself to poking with the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better put the kettle on

    ICS released 8 months ago, yet it took 5 months to reach my phone!

    JB now released, look forward to using it in March 2012 when I finally get the upgrade.

    WHAT DO YOU MEAN my phone is not compatible!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better put the kettle on

      Will it suck the life frce out of my HTC Sensation like the ICS update did?

      1. frank ly

        @AC 07:12 Re: Better put the kettle on

        My HTC Incredible had the life force and the battery charge sucked out of it by the ICS update. I deeply regret doing it. If anybody is running Gingerbread on an HTC Incredible, I advise that you do not 'update' it. Apart from the sluggishness and the increased battery drain, you'll have to get used to some UI changes that are simply annoying.

      2. 404

        Re: Better put the kettle on

        Question: Did you back up and do a factory reset on the HTC after the upgrade?

        I know that my Droid razr was acting squirrelly until I did so - battery usage is now better than Gingerbread and some other little issues (email quit etc) did straighten out.

        Not sure that this might help, but throwing it out there in any case.

        1. SYNTAX__ERROR

          Re: Upgrade when?

          Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S3 both updated the weekend following release.

          No noticeable 'carrier delay' with Samsung / T-mobile...

      3. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Better put the kettle on

        On my Sensation, it improved performance and increased battery life.

        The only drawback is that Sense 3.5 is a bit bloated and occassionally either getting kicked out of memory or kicks my podcast and audiobook players out of memory, other than that

    2. geekclick

      Re: Better put the kettle on

      ICS released 8 months ago, yet it took 5 months to reach my phone!

      JB now released, look forward to using it in March 2012 when I finally get the upgrade.

      WHAT DO YOU MEAN my phone is not compatible!

      You going back in time then Mr?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better put the kettle on

      Must be my reality distortion field... 2013 I mean.

      1. King Jack

        Re: Better put the kettle on

        And here was I thinking you were Marty McFly behind that mask.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better put the kettle on

      The stop cheapskating on your product purchases.

      If you want the Apple-like update experience, the ONLY way to achieve that is via a network agnostic Nexus device.

      Anything else, you are at the mercy of the phone manufacturers and networks. You might want to consider that when you cheapskate on your phone purchase next time. Put up or shut up as they say....

      1. JDC

        Re: Better put the kettle on

        "network agnostic Nexus device" - like my Nexus One, which is no longer supported then?

        1. big_D Silver badge


          And the iPhone, iPhone 2 and iPhone 3 aren't supported by new versions of iOS either, your point?

          With Nexus, as long as the hardware is up to the job, you will get the updates. If the new version requires additional memory or extra hardware that aren't in the old device, there isn't a lot anybody can do about it.

          If you buy a carrier phone, you get the updates as and when the carrier sees fit, if at all. I went halfway, I bought a carrier free non-Nexus phone... I'll probably go for a Nexus the next time around. That said, htc have sent me 4 Android updates and over half a dozen firmware updates since I bought my Sensation last Autumn.

          1. JeffyPooh

            Re: going all-in for a carrier free more expensive smart phone

            Good idea. That way your phone will be satisfyingly up to date for up to about 24 months, instead of just up to about two years. Much better...

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Better put the kettle on

        "Anything else, you are at the mercy of the phone manufacturers and networks. You might want to consider that when you cheapskate on your phone purchase next time. Put up or shut up as they say...."

        Hi Barry. Nexus devices are rarely cutting edge - they seem more like a reference design for developers, or even for other manufacturers. They often lack some features that other, more expensive, Android smart phones have. People who buy a mid/high-end HTC, Samsung, or Sony phone are hardly 'cheapskates'.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Better put the kettle on

        Is it cheapskating? some think that the Google UI is dull and the OEM versions are better. They have to offer something to get people onto their platform.

        Personally I think these vendors need to contribute back to Android and stop being so petty. Can you imagine the mess Linux would be in if big companies like IBM didn't contribute their work back to the kernel?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Better put the kettle on

          LOL, someone else that doesn't "get" Android.

          If you don't like stock Android ala Nexus, then download one of the many launchers, like GoLauncher for example...

          You can change pretty much anything you want to with Android, or just leave it as stock if you prefer...

    5. Stefing

      Re: Better put the kettle on

      It took a couple of weeks to reach my Galaxy S3 - courtesy of CyanogenMod.

      Bloody lovely it is too.

    6. Kyoraki

      Re: Better put the kettle on

      Odds are there is already a AOSP rom or CyanogenMod 10 nightly floating about for your device somewhere. Forget the kettle, time a bright young lad like you learned to get his hands dirty.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best possible feature they forgot to mention...

    Does it actually make you real jelly beans?

    1. The Baron

      Re: Best possible feature they forgot to mention...

      Of course it does, in the same way that Mac OS X Snow Leopard allows you to summon a living, breathing panthera uncia using a secret keyboard combination.

  3. Arctic fox
    Thumb Up

    "Far more useful is the new off-line voice typing facility"

    Now that is seriously useful. Its not everyone who is particularly comfortable with a virtual keyboard for more than a couple of sentences. Many are of course (I am myself) but there plenty who aren't and I have no doubt that they will welcome this aspect. Apart from anything else there are many people who, for reasons of age and/or infirmity rather than preference, find using an on-screen keyboard very difficult indeed.

    1. dotdavid
      Thumb Up

      Re: "Far more useful is the new off-line voice typing facility"

      I'm also thinking that maybe some kind of live subtitling app would be possible, very handy for the deaf I would imagine.

    2. durbster

      Re: "Far more useful is the new off-line voice typing facility"

      Trying to recreate a physical keyboard on a touchscreen will never work properly so all touchscreen keyboards of that type are a bit rubbish. I've recently switched over to using Swype which is a far better way to type on a touchscreen and surprisingly accurate. If you haven't tried it then it's well worth a go.

      1. Paul Westerman
        Thumb Up

        Yes to this

        Swype is brilliant, ppl are amazed when I show them it in action. I don't know why they've gone down the Google route of being in perpetual beta.

        1. breakfast

          Re: Yes to this

          I tried all the keyboards around a year or so back and found Swype worked out a lot slower than Swiftkey for me- the super-predictive approach finds words after far less work and if you have to send the same message twice it's faster than copying/pasteing. Pretty neat technology.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yes to this

          I remember Swype seeming very novel and clever a few years ago. However, I realised that I can get much higher speed and better accuracy with a properly trained Swiftkey; I have the phone and the tablet version now, and given that I got that 15 quid store credit with my Nexus 7, didn't resent having to spring for three quid for the separate tablet edition :D

          That said, I did try another beta of Swype recently, it's still not bad, but the novelty has worn off a wee bit.

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: Yes to this

            swype is good when it works are the absolute pits when it doesnt. I wish it was adaptive, I never type al but always all and recorrct. It still doesnt seem to get out the of the habit of choosing al.

            1. Matthew 3

              Re: Yes to this

              Swype needs to learn that, for example 'this' is a more commonly used word than 'thus'. Seriously, who thought that'd be a better guess for the word you wanted?

            2. Cosmo

              Re: Yes to this

              You typed that using a swype keyboard didn't you?

  4. ukgnome
    Thumb Up

    The clever 16 YO genius Dev on modaco already has a working pre-alpha version for the Orange Monte Carlo

    a 800MHz phone running about 95% as intended - if only qualcom would create / release drivers for ARM6 phones.

  5. Thomas Whipp

    " Nevertheless, the update delivers increased performance and new features in spades"

    Not wanting to be picky, but you just reviewed this on new (quad-core) hardware, can you justify the "increased performance" part of this statement? How much of the experiance is based on being able to dedicate a core to UI handling without impact on other tasks (not sure if it does that, purely an example of what it might do).

    For most people I suspect they wont care as they'll get this with new hardware - but for a review on this site that does seem to be a major unsubstantiated claim.

    1. RussellMcIver

      Increased Performance

      Running the latest CyanogenMod 10 alpha release of JB on my Desire S I can say that this version of Android definitely does improve performance. Everything is far faster and smoother than it ever was on GB and ICS.

      And that's on a single core device.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: "Not wanting to be picky, but you just reviewed this on new (quad-core) hardware"

      My Tegra 3 based Android 4.1 Nexus 7 seems quicker and smoother than my 4.0 Galaxy S3, if that's any help. Admittedly, there is the extra factor of manufacturer crapware to take into account, they all like to install their own graphical shell- but Samsung Touchwiz is significantly lighter and less spammy than HTC Sense and friends.

      So, apply a Stradivari constant to account for Touchwiz, and it still seems sleeker. The vsynced and triple buffered UI is lovely, and I suspect the CPU freq management helps here too, as the S3 sometimes takes a second or so to fully light the afterburners if it has been dozing.

      The Nexus 7 with Jelly Bean is the slickest Android experience so far, easily. You're absolutely right, the hardware is sufficiently powerful that it damn well should be, but still, that hasn't always been a guarantee in the past. Personally, I give the Nexus 7 a cheery and unreserved thumbs up, it doesn't look at all shabby next to my iPad 3 (yes, ok, I like gadgets).

      (Also, pretty much everyone who has played with my N7 so far has been sorely tempted, a few are gnashing their teeth that the 16GB one is out of stock now :D)

      Oh, and Firefox Aurora with Adblock Plus is a joy on there...

    3. Keith_C
      Thumb Up

      My Galaxy Nexus got JB last week, and it's massively, *massively* smoother and slicker in comparison to ICS. The Gnex is 'only' dual-core too.

      It's a massive improvement in every way over ICS - it has made what was already a phone I was happy with to one I am *extremely* happy with.

    4. Al Taylor

      Hi Thomas, that was a general opinion based on my experience of other ICS / Tegra 3 machines like the Asus Transformer Pad compared to the JB Nexus 7.

  6. Robigus

    Nexus S

    After what seemed like an eternity waiting for ICS, I received my Jelly Bean update OTA last night on my Nexus S.

    I was already used to it as my Nexus 7 came pre installed with it - at least - it probably did. SWMBO swiped it and I've barely seen it since, and as I haven't been bombarded with "How" and "it's rubbish because" and "stupid thing" and "why doesn't it" etc, I can only assume that Jelly Bean functions well.

  7. Irongut Silver badge

    "ability to understand natural language and reply in the same is certainly on a par with Siri"

    So shite if you've got a northern English or Scottish accent then? We tried out Siri on a colleagues iPhone recently and it could not understand anyone in the IT dept despite none of us having a particularly strong accent.

    Voice recognition does not work unless you spend weeks training the software to understand you personally by reading standard texts to it.

    1. PaulR79

      What's natural about Scottish accents or northern / north east accents? :>

    2. Toastan Buttar

      State which floor you would like.


  8. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Watch Out!

    I can't wait for my first sighting of a VoiceTyping moron walking into a lamppost.

    I have seen several TXTing morons walk into lampposts/busstops/letterboxes and on one occasion the doofus in question walked into the road and got run over (he was OK but his phone got trashed).

    They will be speaking to their phone/tablet whilst checking that it is typing what they said,..... and WHAMMO!

    I'll be lying in a corner laughing hysterically.

    Better still you can do Driveby Tourettes.

    Just run up to someone VOXing and shout a stream of obscenities at their Phone/Tablet.

    Then watch them frantically trying to delete your commentary from their next Tweet.

    Oh, it's gonna be SUCH FUN!

  9. BogBeast

    Proxy Support...

    Whilst Chrome and the base OS just about support HTTP proxy, market (play) still doesn't and infact Gmail seems to have gone backwards from ICS (I am sure that it worked via proxy).

    Poor show google...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Proxy Support...

      Get that and real printing support added and they'll have something.

  10. andy gibson

    Good review

    Because I used to live in Worsley and I like the local maps, pictures and other references you get into the review!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UI guff

    I don't suppose all this swirly swishy boingy slidy UI guff is capable of being disabled by any chance? I do this on all My Windows boxes as it's just a waste of CPU cycles AND seconds waiting for pages and panels to 'slurp' around the screen! Imagine how frikkin' fast Android phones (and iPhones?!) would perform if you could...

    1. dirk_diggler

      Re: UI guff

      Developer options > Drawing > Window/Transition/Animator animation scale. Set to off.

      Yes it does seem pretty bloody fast with it all off, but I prefer a bit of whizzary.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: UI guff

        So you CAN disable it all (unlike the iPhone)?! Good show!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: UI guff

          iOS users welcome you to the GPU accelerated party

  12. illiad

    Hmph.. so many things MISSED OUT!!!

    Like to try this great video guide on that JB phone??? I'd love to know how well it plays.... :)

    Even a good site famous for its video reviews of stuff, still has not replied....

    Ah sure wonder why..... :P

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmph.. so many things MISSED OUT!!!

      err....both those videos are hosted on YouTube so they play perfectly on the Nexus 7

      You probably didn't get a reply because it's a dumb question to begin with! We all know Adobe has pulled support for Flash from Android and that's its days are numbered. Nothing to see here, move along.

      1. illiad
        Thumb Up

        Re: Hmph.. so many things MISSED OUT!!!

        NOT if the reviewer had actually shown this!!!

        go tell them to say, "yes, youtube works, as well as others... " because NO-ONE has said any thing like this, not even casually on the browser review!!!!!

        now go on, be of **public service** and try these on your nexus... :) then I can tell all my friends they are stupid, video DOES work on JB, so go and get it!!!! :)

  13. BlackBolt
    Thumb Up

    Bring on the Jelly

    It was pushed to my Google Nexus handset last week, its a great improvement on all fronts. Only wish the speed up update was across the board as I am still waiting on ICS for my Galaxy Tab 10.1. Which sucks as the new version ships with it and its technically a poorer spec.

  14. eJ2095

    Running on my HD2

    Thanks to guys over at xda

  15. Afflicted.John
    Thumb Up


    What are the widgets in the screen shots? The curvy battery meter etc....?

    Me like.

    1. Al Taylor
      Thumb Up

      Re: Widgets

      The battery meter is this...

      and the WiFi widget is this....

      I heartily recommend both.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about fixing loss of signal behavior?

    How about fixing what happens when the phone loses cellular signal?

    Right now, when the phone loses cellular signal, rather than shutting down the cellular radio for a period of time (like a minute or more), and then re-activating, looking for signal, and repeating as appropriate, the phone goes into the Yorkie separation-anxiety moment of "OMG NO SIGNAL NO SIGNAL HELLO TOWER HELLO TOWER OMG NO SIGNAL NO SIGNAL TOWER TOWER CAN YOU HEAR ME OMG" and burns the battery down to nothing in no time.

    True, some of that behavior is in the radio system firmware, which is outside the Android framework - but Android can see the RSSI value, Android controls the power to the radio system, Android can say "OK, take a breath cellular system. We have no signal, the odds of that being fixed in the next 2 milliseconds is pretty low, chill and we'll check in a minute, OK? - Breath!"

    1. illiad

      Re: How about fixing loss of signal behavior?

      this is in the 'it always works, dunnit??' class... the same as PC wifi... blissfully happy, until it all goes wrong.. another good use of android, to see whether some nutter has kicked the router, or messed up the PC...

      yes, they managed to crash IE, and instead of phoning support, went all though the network settings, instead of restarting... :(


    Apple really missed a trick in not patenting "smoothness". I'm sure they're kicking themselves.

    I mean, they got a patent on "scroll bounce"!

    Can you fucking believe that?

  18. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    Am I the only one...

    ... who's disappointed that the British English "Siri" voice wasn't based on Peter Tuddenham's?

    I've had mixed results with Siri. British English has a far greater variation in accents and dialects than is found in the US, so I suspect we'll see "Scottish English", "Welsh English", "Geordie English", etc. eventually. (Irish English accents might be covered by US English though; the Irish influence on most of the east coast American accents is very noticeable.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Am I the only one...

      "I've had mixed results with Siri. British English has a far greater variation in accents and dialects than is found in the US"


      You'd not been to:

      the South

      Wisconsin, donchanow


      like, California, fur shur

      San Francisco (they have their own accent)

      Any Barrio area

      (just for starters)

      Yes, US TV would have you believe we all talk like Kansans, but seriously, we have as many incomprehensible accents as the UK does.


    Don't Call me Mr. Fahrenheit

    Still can't get google to respond to "What's the weather like" in anything other than the antequated American Fahrenheit scale, despite setting all things to English (UK). I have to specifically ask for the temperature in celsius to get a proper British response.

    And asking and talking about the weather is a bloody British pass time!

    Bit rubbish and really quite annoying.

    1. illiad

      Re: Don't Call me Mr. Fahrenheit

      for things like that, the BBC weather site is much better...

      Or set your search to use

    2. Ale

      Re: Don't Call me Mr. Fahrenheit

      Or just pick your preferred units in settings.

      Google now -> settings -> Google now -> weather -> units

      Not difficult.

  20. paddy carroll 1


    Well it doesn't work on my Samsung nexus thing whatever. GPS does not work, can't answer the phone......

    1. illiad

      Re: Lacking

      Um, you have realized if it is a nexus 7, that it is NOT a phone?? (or did you forget your sarcasm tag??)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the telly

    Question, I'm about to take delivery of the nexus 7 and I want to mirror the screen to my telly (by one of those old fashioned wire things if needs be) I know there is no HDMI out socket but is there any other way of doing it (even if I have to crack the beast open and roll my own connector) ?

  22. JeffyPooh

    Android FINALLY catching up to iOS

    No Flash plugin for the browser. LOL.

    1. illiad

      Re: Android FINALLY catching up to iOS

      see my post in answer to AC 24th July 2012 13:21 ... who may just be lazy, or found the links dont work... :/

      please try them, all the reviewers wont bother! It will be a few months until JB is out for 'old' handsets anyway.... :( :(

      meanwhile, if you are a newb like me, and dont want to 'root' - then 'astro filemanager' gives you an easy way to back up your apps.. :)

  23. Al Taylor


    Hi illiad, sorry for the late reply.

    JB ships with Chrome as the default browser so playing Flash video in the browser a non starter. Also the Flash player won't download onto the Nexus 7 from the Play Store. I have heard tell that if you root your Nexus 7, side load Flash player and use a third party browser you can play Flash video in-browser. I've not tried this so can't comment.

    The YouTube app works as it does in previous versions of Android and HTML video plays in Chrome. All the video links you posted either played in Chrome or launched the YouTube app.

    I didn't cover this in the article as I didn't consider it part of the story of what's changed from ICS to JB though I should perhaps have mentioned that Chrome has now replaced the old webkit browser as the default.

    Hope this clarifies matters.

    1. pabc

      No need to root the nexus 7 for flash

      a quick search will give you the xda-developers thread where you sideload flash which will work with firefox beta on the market or for a less buggy experience sideload Dolphin 8.5.1

      Voila - iPlayer on the nexus 7.

  24. illiad

    Al Taylor: thanks! :)

    Great to hear from someone with brains (seriously)!! :)

    Thats very interesting about those links... I guess it is too early to see what will happen, but there is some recent chatter about getting something working, beyond saying 'its wonderful' etc..

    As I said elsewhere, we'll have to wait until after aug 15, to see what happens, and how many devices are nearly or fully bricked by desperate geeks, and how many just 'work'.. :P

    thats the thing that gets me steamed, peeps talking about stuff before it is even 'put in the oven', never mind baked...

    I think the worst example was the rip of the new 'hulk' movie in 2000, that was so bad, it was most likely copied straight from the studio's editing suite, unfinished!!!

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