Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Dictation and keyboard input

Until Jelly Bean, the voice input feature of Android has required a data connection to function. Now, you can dictate an email or text message, for instance, regardless of whether you have a mobile or Wi-Fi connection. For English (US) this requires a 22MB download.

Android Jelly Bean Keyboard

We found the diction to be better than ever, managing to dictate entire emails and text messages without mistakes. Words appear on the screen almost immediately after they've left your mouth.

If you're not keen on talking to your device then Google has improved the Android keyboard with better predictive functionality. The keyboard will try to predict what word you want to type next giving a few options to choose from, in a similar way to Swiftkey.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Voice searchAndroid Jelly Bean Google Search

As usual you can use the microphone icon to perform a voice search, either from the home screen or within Google Now and Chrome. We found the recognition extremely accurate and the results are presented in a similar card format to Google Now with regular search results below.

Like Apple's Siri, you can get answers read back to you in an audible voice. It gets one over on Siri in the UK since you can search for local businesses and attractions.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Chrome

Google Chrome, on the Nexus 7 at least, is the default pre-loaded web browser. It offers an excellent tabbed browsing experience and things like bookmarks, most visited sites and even open tabs can be easily synchronised with the desktop version of Chrome. There are other nifty settings like how much you want the browser to scale text plus an automatic form filler for profiles and credit card details and saved passwords.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Flash

By far the biggest issue with 4.1 Jelly Bean is the lack of Flash support. This puts it in a similar position as the iPad where Flash-based web and video content is not accessible. Fans of BBC iPlayer and watching PC Advisors videos will be disappointed.

If you're happy to do a bit of hacking there is a way around this but ultimately Jelly Bean will be somewhat limited in this area until content providers and developers move away from Flash.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Camera App

The camera app in Jelly Bean has a couple of small tweaks making it better. When you take a photo a new animation shows it flying off the screen, swiping to the left will bring the last taken photo back into view and allow you to continue browsing through your other snaps. If you pinch zoom out while browsing you can delete pictures by swiping them off the top or bottom of the screen, and if you delete one by mistake you can undo it.

Android Jelly Bean Camera App

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Other changes

There are some smaller, but still noteworthy changes including the ability store contact photos as large as 720 x 720, making the contact page look better.

Android Beam now teams up with Bluetooth for sharing images, videos, or other files. When a transfer is started by tapping NFC devices together, Android Beam switches to Bluetooth to move the data.

The microUSB port found out almost every Android smartphone or tablet can now be used to send audio. This means hardware vendors can make things like speaker docks which use the physical port to play music.

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Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean): Specs

  • Compatible Android device
  • Compatible Android device