I have both an HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus (I use it with my T-Mobile and AT&T accounts) and a Verizon CDMA Nexus. As Google announced yesterday, the Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) update is now rolling out to HSPA+ devices. I installed a custom ROM last week and have been using Jelly Bean for a few days so wanted to share some experiences. I thought Ice Cream Sandwich was excellent and what we always wanted from Android and now Jelly Bean greatly improves on that experience. The primary improvements for me include Google Now, enhanced notifications, and a smoother user interface. You can check out many screenshots of Jelly Bean on my Galaxy Nexus in my image gallery. The Verge has an excellent detailed review of Jelly Bean that you should check out too.
Google Now is a slick new feature that appears to be the ultimate compilation of Google Search personalized for you. Simply swipe up from below the screen to have Google Now appear. The upper section shows a cool image that changes to reflect your location and time of day with a search box to enter text or voice commands. Below this is where your Google Now cards will appear dynamically. As you can see below the Google Now cards are great for the business person who commutes, goes out to lunch, meets with clients, and travels. There are no real media or social networking features, but primarily personal assistant tools to help you be more efficient and have your smartphone take care of gathering data for your in a smart manner.
The voice search lets you perform the following types of searches and actions:
I found the voice search to be fairly picky in regards to how you phrase your question too. If done "properly" you will get the results you expect, but if you don't ask how Google wants you too then you may end up with simple web search results. Unlike S Voice on the Galaxy S III, you cannot perform device functions such as toggling wireless radios with Google Now at this time. Check out this video showing a great selection of questions asked using the Google Now voice search utility.
I found it to be much better than S Voice on the Galaxy S III and any other Android voice control program. I would even argue that it is better than Siri on iOS. You can perform some things without an internet connection too, including composition of emails and text messages (voice dictation tasks). Anything requiring a search obviously requires some kind of connection.
The Google Now cards change depending on the time of day, searches you have performed, and settings that you customize. There are cards for the following:
There are settings for each Google Now card and you can check them out in my image gallery. Be patient when you first start using Google Now as it takes some time for Google to collect the data needed to have it working best for you.
Notifications have always been a distinguishing feature in Android and Jelly Bean helps them get even better. They look better with more use of white and the Roboto fonts rather than so much Tron blue. Some notifications also now appear two blocks high, photos for example, so you can see more relavent information in the notification. You can also now perform some actions right from the notifications, such as tap to share a photo, snooze an alarm, make a quick call back, and more. You can clear all notifications by tapping the new three bar step icon in the upper right.
You also now have app level control of notifications so if you go to your app settings and app info page you can toggle the Show notifications option. The easiest way to get to this app info from a notification is to simply press and hold on it to see an App Info link appear.
I recently reviewed the Nokia Play 360 speakers and followed up by purchasing my own white set of speakers. Jelly Bean supports NFC tap to pair to Bluetooth so just like my Nokia N9 I simply tapped my Galaxy Nexus to my speakers to setup the Bluetooth connection and connect. I know it is not a huge deal, but it is much more convenient than enabling the Bluetooth radio, setting up the pairing, and then connecting through menus.
There are several more improvements in Jelly Bean. Some are listed below and if you can think of others feel free to let me know in the comments.
As I started off saying, the HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus Jelly Bean update is rolling out now. There is no word on when the Verizon or Sprint CDMA version will appear as it first goes through carrier testing. You can purchase an HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus for just $349 with no contract and then use it on AT&T and T-Mobile in the US or around the world on GSM carriers. You can also order a Nexus 7 tablet that comes with Jelly Bean. I have mine pre-ordered and look forward to testing it out.