Overview of the Android 4.2 operating system
First of all, I would like to apologize to our readers for such a long delay in the release of this article. Let me remind you that for the most impatient we already had a little material from the Google presentation, this article is intended for those who plan to buy a smartphone or tablet with 4.2 on board and want to know what benefits they will get from the new version of Android. Also in the future we will refer to this article when it comes to 4.2. And now, without further ado, let's move on to the review itself.
To tell you the truth, I personally have become so accustomed to installing a third-party keyboard when testing or buying a new smartphone that I have not even paid attention to innovations in the stock one lately. As I remember now, the irritation that you experience when you first set up the tablet for 4.0, when in order to enter English characters, you need to go to Books & Games in Apapa in the settings and activate other languages. Fortunately, in 4.1 this problem was fixed and finally a separate button was added for switching languages. But Google decided not to stop at these improvements, and in 4.2 the keyboard received another new feature: text input using “swipes”. To do this, you need to activate this function in the settings.
When entering words using swipes, a space is automatically inserted. Also, if your word was recognized incorrectly, it can be deleted with one touch.
In addition, if I'm not mistaken, 4.2 added the ability to download updatable dictionaries.
I liked the new input method, although its accuracy is sometimes inferior to the original Swype, however, we hope that it will increase over time.
Google (apparently due to popular demand or with an eye to TouchWiz and CyanogenMod) has finally decided to add functionality to the notification shade.
Right swiping now opens a switch panel. When you click on most of them, you are transferred to the settings (we are talking about Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, charge indicator), in some cases, pressing immediately activates the action (for example, enabling / disabling screen auto-rotation). On the right is your Google+ profile photo, clicking on it will open your address book.
Swipe left to open the familiar notifications panel. Now it adjusts to the number of notifications, and does not recline to the full height of the screen.
It is interesting that a different combination is used on smartphones: for example, a two-finger swipe brings up a panel with switches, and a simple swipe brings up a notification panel.
News in Gmail
You can now quickly zoom in on an email with a two-finger pinch. This feature is enabled in the settings. Double tapping after scaling adjusts the text to fit the screen.
Widgets on the lock screen
Starting with version 4.2, you can install one of several widgets on your lock screen. By default, Mail, Calendar, Clock, and Google+ widgets are available. Third party developers can also add support for widgets on the lock screen. At the moment, developers HD Widgets and Plume have already taken advantage of this opportunity. If you have a Nexus device, be sure to check out HD Widgets, I think their lock screen widgets are really cool.
Google decided to improve this application and add additional functionality to it. When you open it, you see a large clock with the current date. Below are three shortcuts, one of them takes you to the alarm clock, the second allows you to set the time zone, and the third is responsible for switching to night mode and settings.
Swipe to the right takes you to the stopwatch. The application itself is quite simple: you just set the time after which it should work. At the start of the countdown, you see a progress bar gradually filling up.
Swipe left to open the timer menu. After making the necessary calculations, they can be immediately shared using the usual methods (mail, twitter, cloud and other social networks).
By the way, you can control the timer and stopwatch after launch directly from the lock screen.
The application also got its own digital widget. Now, finally, you don't have to think about which third-party widget to install on your home screen.
You can now customize how your device behaves when going to sleep. For example, so that you don’t get bored just watching the charging tablet turn off, Google decided to add several screensavers that turn on in sleep mode. First you need to choose the time when they will turn on. Then you should decide on the screensaver itself, there are five templates available: clock, collage, media, frame and colors.
In the first template, two types of clocks are available to you: digital and analog. You can also turn on the night mode so that the screen does not hit your eyes with strong backlight.
Collage displays your photos as scattered thumbnails. You can choose the folders with the displayed photos yourself. You can also select photos from your web storage in Picasa. If you are interested in any of the photos, just click on it to open it in full screen mode.
Frame mode does much the same thing as collage, but this time the photos appear one at a time and follow each other.
In Media mode, you can see the latest news from the application of the same name on the screen. Clicking on the news opens its brief announcement, you can immediately go to the application itself.
The last mode is called Colors. When you turn it on, the screen simply displays a multi-colored blur.
Initially, I did not attach much importance to this function, it looked uninteresting at the presentation, but after trying it on my tablet, you immediately realize that it has huge potential.
The bottom line is that when you add a new user, he has his own desktops, games and applications. All its settings are personalized. At the same time, information such as Wi-Fi passwords is available to all users at once. The use of multiple accounts will be in demand, first of all, in families, and will eliminate problems from the category: “Dad, why did you delete my game?” True, it is important to remember here that, despite the presence of two accounts, the amount of internal memory is still the same. By the way, about the internal memory: if you logged in from one account and connected the tablet to your computer, then you will only see files uploaded for this account, for example, screenshots taken from another account will not be visible.
The camera has received an updated interface, as you can see, all settings are now displayed as items arranged in a circle.
Also in 4.2, it became possible to shoot a 360-degree panorama.
True, such images can not be fully viewed through all image manipulation programs. At the moment, they are correctly displayed by the Google+ social network. Therefore, I suggest that you familiarize yourself with examples of how these panoramas look at this and this links.
To tell you the truth, I was very impressed with this feature and reminded me a bit of the same 3D panoramas in Yandex.Maps.
Starting with 4.2, Miracast support for all devices will be added. Let me remind you that only NVIDIA has previously announced that it will support this feature.
Just a quick refresher on the purpose of Miracast. With this technology, you can broadcast the image from your smartphone or tablet to a large TV screen wirelessly. To do this, you will need to buy a special "dongle" that is inserted into the HDMI connector (it will cost about a hundred dollars). By the way, LG announced that all their "smart TVs" will have built-in support for Miracast (as I understand it, you don't need a dongle).
Despite the many new features, I can't call Android 4.2 revolutionary. It introduces "cosmetic" updates rather than extremely important ones. On the other hand, the same support for multiple accounts is very important for someone. In my opinion, Google has only one important problem left to solve with its OS - battery life, if they can somehow optimize it in Android 5.0, then it will be great, because they are slowly fixing the rest of the shortcomings (for example, lags when scrolling through tables and poor quality photos after synchronization).