Google is widely expected to release Android 5.0, Key Lime Pie, in the last quarter of this year. Key Lime Pie is expected to be a major update of Google operating system. The last major update of the Android Operating System was Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, released October 2011. In between, we have seen several Jelly Bean Releases.
Android 4.0 merged the Android phone and tablet operating systems and brought the new Holo User interface to Android phones. The task switcher was brought to front and center of the Android experience. A new more attractive animation, was accompanied by the replacement of the Search and Menu buttons, with a dedicated Recent Apps button. In addition, new features like resizable widgets, Face Unlock and the ability to launch the camera from the lock screen were introduced. Behind the scenes, a lot had also changed. Android 4.0 used hardware acceleration to run the graphical user interface and in general higher system requirements. This left many Android devices stuck on Android 2.3. Ice Cream Sandwich.
Since then, there have been five Jelly Bean feature releases (Android 4.1, 4.1.2, 4.2, 4,2.2 and 4.3) and two bug fixes (Android 4.1.1, Android 4.2.2). Each new feature release has made incremental improvements in Android.
Android 4.1 (July 2012)
Android 4.1 made two major improvements in Android. One was what has been dubbed “Project Butter”. Project Butter is actually the continuous tweaking of the Android operating system for better performance and to give the user interface a more fluid experience. While widely publicized with Android 4.1, most Android releases include performance improvements.
More revolutionary is Google Now, Android’s built-in personal assistant. Personal assistants had been in the Apple App Store and Google Play, virtually unnoticed for years until Apple bought Siri and integrated it into iOS for the iPhone 4S. Similarly, Samsung got another commercial personal assistant, Vlingo and used that as the base for its S-Voice personal assistant which we first saw integrated in TouchWiz for the Samsung Galaxy S III. Andy Rubin, then Google’s Android chief was never very fond of Siri, and Google came up with Google Now.
Google Now not only answer questions, but also make recommendations and performs actions by delegating requests to a set of web services. Google Now passively delivers information to the user that it predicts they will want, based on their search habits, trying to mimic a real world personal secretary.
Android 4.1.2 (October 2012)
Android 4.1.2 enabled home screen rotation on Vanilla Android.
Android 4.2 (November 2012)
Android 4.2 incorporated a lot of existing features in manufacturer customized versions of Android or apps as core parts of the Android. This includes a more customizable Lockscreen, quick settings, gesture typing and 360 degree images. Android 4.2.2 also adopted Miracast as the standard for the output or standard and HD video wireless WiFi enabled LCD/LED TV’s and other devices.
For tablets, Android 4.2 added one major feature. Android 4.2 allows multi-users to maintain separate profiles in an Android tablet, with each profile having its own apps and settings. This allows an Android device to be shared among several users.
Android 4.2.2 (February 2013)
Android 4.2.2 brought with it improvements to notifications, quick settings and performance.
Android 4.3 (July 2013)
Android 4.3 probably should have been named Android 4.2.3 as the improvements it brings do not seem to merit a full tenth of a point increase in the version number. Well, at least not at first glance. The most apparent changes is Restricted Profiles for tablets. Android 4.3 allows you to segment off access to different areas of the tablet to different users. This would allow parents to restrict their children’s access to adult content as an example.
But the main focus of the latest upgrade is under the hood. Android 4.3 features support for OpenGL ES 3.0, a graphics API that will improve Android graphics capabilities and should allow Android game developers to release even more graphically amazing titles. Android also added for low-power Bluetooth devices, which seems to be in preparation for better support for Smartwatches and any other accessories that manufacturers decided to come out for Android. For a list of top new features in Android 4.3, click this link.
It looks like Google may be saving the more revolutionary changes for Android 5.0, Key Lime Pie.