Google announced the next minor update of their mobile Android operating system yesterday, weeks after the first phone with the operating system, Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4. We had already learnt that the new operating system has a ton of benefits including battery life improvements, and we didn’t really expect major improvements in this version, especially as it is projected that Google is working on Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie set to be released later this year. The update may be small, but it is clear that most of the work was done under the hood as there aren’t many notable change in the user interface. Here is a list of the changes on this new Android version.
OpenGL ES 3.0: The support for OpenGL ES 3.0 on the new Android version means that applications will now be able to make full use of it to improve device graphics including better frame rate and rendering. This means that you will have better gaming experience and generally improved visual performance.
Wi-Fi for location: The current version of Android uses the device’s GPS only to place the user on the map when applications request for location. With Android 4.3, applications can now place the user on the map based on Wi-Fi locations. Wi-Fi locations will reduce battery usage and speed up location services.
Restricted Profiles: This is a feature to restrict what other users can see on the device. It appears to be more of feature for parents to control what their kids view. Google pointed out that it would be a handy feature to use in kiosk Mode.
DRM APIs: The introduction of APIs for DRM means that some applications now have expanded capabilities. Apps like Netflix could now even stream full HD 1080p videos to the device.
Keyboard & input: Android 4.3 brings an improved tap-typing algorithm recognition designed to simplify text input especially while chatting, typing emails and composing messages. This feature also include an emoji keyboard, just like iPhone’s and reduces the latency input for joysticks and gamepad buttons.
Bluetooth AVRCP: This is a feature that enables your Android jelly Bean 4.3 device to sync with a car’s Bluetooth stereo system for expanded functionalities. Version 1.3 of Bluetooth AVRCP also allows car stereo system to display the phone’s metadata including a song name when streaming music from the device to the car stereo system.
Notification Access: Notification access has been one of the most celebrated features of Android. With the new Android version 4.3, users can interact with notifications on the status bar and control how the notifications are pushed to the primary device and other devices such as smart watches and fitness bands. It also enables users to view all notifications in one place.
Simpler Setup wizard: Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is now able to correct user input when signing into the device. The user can now change any information entered during the first device boot and switching between users on the lockscreen is now faster.
Dial-pad Autocomplete: The auto-complete feature has until now been available on the dial-pad. The feature will suggest phone numbers and contact names when the user starts to enter the first few characters. This feature is new to Android ROMs but it has been on Samsun’s and HTC’s custom user interface skins over Android.
Bluetooth Smart Ready: As more and more companies work on smartwatches and wearable devices, Google is making sure Android is equipped to handle them. Android 4.3’s Bluetooth Smart Ready is a feature that supports low-energy state on Bluetooth Smart accessories like thermometers, smartwatches, monitors and pedometers among others. This means that devices running this version of Android can sync with third party low energy devices without affecting the device’s battery usage.
New Camera UI: The only user interface change is the camera’s app. The application has been updated with a new arch-based menu to make it easier to control the camera and to change settings.
Other new features worth mentioning include addition of a new tab in the system settings to manage and view hidden applications, an improved Photo Frame Daydream screensaver, simpler initial setup and a Quick Response feature. We expect that Google is developing Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, which will be a major improvement to the Android OS and is expected to finally put an end to the operating system’s fragmentation.