It is Google I/O day and we are all kicked up to check out the latest addition to the candy shop that Android has become. This year it is Jelly Bean, confirmed by its namesake statue that was installed a few hours ago at Googleplex joining the other diabetes inducing delicacies. Read on for my expectations from Android at Google I/O that goes live in about 12 hours from now. Also Read - Android Lollipop slowly nears 20 percent mark after eight months of releaseAlso Read - Android Lollipop fails to gain usage as two-year-old Jelly Bean still dominates Android usage
Firstly, Jelly Bean is most likely to be an incremental update rather than a complete overhaul. Think about it more like the update we saw between Froyo and Gingerbread rather than what we saw between Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich. In all likelihood it will be called Android 4.1 rather than Android 5.0. Also Read - Android 5.0 Lollipop update rolling out for Nexus devices today
With the technicalities taken care of, let’s look at what improvements or additions Jelly Bean could bring to the table. Firstly, I would really like to see Google implementing a better, more intuitive UI navigation. There is a good reason that most vendors including Samsung and HTC have not ditched the soft buttons below the display yet. Ice Cream Sandwich’s on-screen navigation UI is confusing, more so on a tablet running stock Android. There have been multiple times where I’m lost at a screen not knowing how to get the next step done. This could probably be just me, considering there hasn’t been much of a hue-and-cry about it on the Internet, but I still believe Android could do with a more polished UI.
Talking about the UI, Google would also probably go with a more clutter-free industrialized look and feel, if this leaked shot of the new Google Play homescreen is anything to go by. This is something I have noticed with iOS 6 as well where Apple is implementing more of silvers, greys and whites rather than toying around with different shades of blues in the bars.
Another major improvement would be Google’s Voice Commands/Search feature, which in my books is a solid but way underused feature. At the moment, it is nothing more than a mic button on the keyboard and the search bar. Google would probably add bring it closer to Siri and make relevant APIs available for developers to use it in their apps more freely than one can do on iOS.
Then there is the new Google Maps, which was mysteriously unveiled a few days prior to WWDC, complete with stunning 3D rendering and offline access. We now know that Apple shafted Google Maps and unveiled its own maps powered by TomTom and others, but offer similar features as Google’s latest offering. It would be a no-brainer to expect these new maps integrated into Jelly Bean while ICS users would probably get an update.
Google could also talk more about offline Google Docs support, especially after it acquired QuickOffice. I won’t stick my neck out and say Jelly Bean would have QuickOffice rebranded as Google Docs as a native offline app but I won’t be surprised if it did.
I don’t think there will be any new Nexus smartphone unveiling at Google I/O this year considering it is an incremental update that the Galaxy Nexus would get first. However, it is more or less confirmed that Google will launch the Nexus 7, which will be the first Nexus branded tablet, for which Google has partnered with Asus (another first) and will run Jelly Bean out of the box.
One thing that is likely to remain unaddressed is the fragmentation of Android. Devices running on Android 2.3 Gingerbread are still being launched while Android ICS hasn’t even touched 10 percent of the total Android installed base since its launch late last year. Jelly Bean might just add more fragmentation to an already fragmented platform.
Finally, Google would drop numerous numbers, which has become a part of every major company’s keynote session. Earlier this month, Andy Rubin had revealed there were 900,000 Android devices being activated every day globally. Will that number hit 1 million tonight?
While we wait for the answers, check out this behind-the-scenes video about Jelly Bean. Enjoy!