Google is targeting Siri with its new operating system.
Whereas Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was released to combine 2.3 Gingerbread (smartphones) and 3.0 Honeycomb (tablets) together, 4.1 Jellybean is a modest OS update that smooths out all of ICS's kinks, for the most part.
Google claims that Android 4.1 Jellybean is "faster, smoother and more responsive" than any other version of Android thanks to a new triple buffering technique that provides more consistent rendering across animations and scrolling.
A few weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google was accelerating plans to launch its own Siri competitor, and today Google unveiled its redesigned search protocol. Voice search is much faster and according to attendees, voice assistant sounds very natural — almost human-like.
Google says that the new UI is "using the power of the Knowledge Graph for search results." Throw any question at the voice search and a voice assistant will try to give you the best answer. It's just like Siri, only it's by Google, meaning it should have much more collected data than Apple does.
But, as Google reminds everyone, artificial intelligence is only as smart as what you tell it. So, there's a new feature in Jellybean called "Google Now." Google Now is like a researcher. If you give it access to your calendar and search history, the AI will start to learn what you may want. It's like your own personal archiver that gets smarter and smarter with every piece of data it mines from you.
For example, it could learn your schedule pattern and tell you when is the best time to leave your house to avoid traffic-laden routes or keep the status of a flight for you. And just like the new version of Siri that will launch this fall in iOS 6, Google's voice search is a sport fan. It'll keep you updated on your favorite sports teams.
One of the things Android does better than any other mobile OS is notifications. It's extremely handy and powerful, and in Jellybean notifications are even more useful than ever.
All notifications can be expanded and collapsed with two fingers, emails can be answered with pre-programmed quick replies or custom messages,
Another neat feature is Google+ photo integration with notifications. Photos shared on Google+ will now show up in notifications where you can +1 them or share them without having to go into the Google+ app. The same can be said for other apps such as Foursquare, where you can like and comment on someone's check-in.
All in all, Jellybean looks to be a slick update to Ice Cream Sandwich. All Google needs now is for more devices to get the update. Can Android 4.1 Jellybean buck the slow adoption rate that was ICS?
Android 4.1 Jellybean will be available as an over the air (OTA) update in mid-July for the Galaxy Nexus and Motorola Xoom tablet.