Android 4.2 vs 4.3
An upgrade to an operating system is a significant task for any OS developer. It involves arduous planning and work along with continuous testing to make the OS perfect as possible. This takes a long time, and if you are looking at an overhaul improvement of the OS, it takes even more time. Even though most of us don’t like it, this seems to be the reason why Google is delaying the next major release of Android Key Lime Pie. They are perfecting their recipe and taking time to do that. This is a favorable condition for Android users in the long run if you are up for the wait. Until then, Google has yet again released a minor upgrade from v 4.2.2 to v 4.3 keeping the nomenclature intact as Jelly Bean. As minor as it may be, it was also highly anticipated, so we decided to find out what exactly the Android 4.3 has to offer to a regular user in terms of usability and performance.
Android 4.3 Jelly Bean Review
Although a lot of Android enthusiasts were expecting Google to release the next major rollout of Android code named as Key Lime Pie, Google only revealed a minor upgrade from v 4.2.2 to v 4.3 Jelly Bean on the Breakfast with Sundar event on the 24th July 2013. This may sometimes be a disappointment for those of us who were eagerly waiting for Key Lime Pie, but let us compare and contrast on the differences between the upgraded version and the predecessor. We have to tell you though, the differences are not that significant and the chances are you won’t even notice some of them; nonetheless, they are there, and we’ll be talking about them on a user’s perspective rather than a developer’s perspective.
Android 4.3 enables multi-user restricted profiles which is a very logical addition to multi-user profiles, which was available before. A restricted profile is one that has access to a predetermined set of apps that would sometimes behave differently. For instance, in the demo Google did a typical gaming app in a restricted user profile for a child behaved differently by disabling the in-app purchases. The primary user can easily customize the user profiles and the application restrictions imposed on them with an intuitive user interface. As indicated by Google, the obvious benefit of this comes directly to parents, and Google also seems to be targeting at retail stores that use tablets so that sales representatives can use the same tablet in different contexts. Google lacked the ability to auto fill the names and telephone numbers in the native dialer which has been fixed in this version. The camera UI has also been revamped and given a new outlook now.
Another noticeable difference a layman would encounter is the notification access. Android 4.3 now allows developers to access the notification stream and do various creative things with it. You will have to wait few weeks till developers get the hang of this, but after that you’ll have a better experience with the notification center. The upgrade also supports what Google identifies as Bluetooth Smart Technology which is simply a way to connect to power efficient accessories with Bluetooth smart. A minor update in AVRCP 1.3 support enables your device to transmit metadata like song’s title and artists to Bluetooth controllers like the one in your car.
Let us also look at some not-so-apparent differences introduced with the v 4.3. Google has enabled Open GL ES 3.0 support, which is a huge deal for gamers. This would mean that Android 4.3 will be more efficient in displaying graphics including textures, lens flares, reflections etc. Google has also changed the 2D rendering pipeline which translates into smoother performance throughout Android OS and less work for developers in developing applications, as well. A modular DRM (Digital Rights Management) framework has been introduced that will allow developers to integrate DRM easily in to their streaming protocols. Needless to say, this comes with numerous changes and additions to the API, as well. A new Emoji keyboard has been introduced with the stock ROM which is interesting. Although Google didn’t formally announce this, it is still available in language and input settings. Another interesting improvement is the Wi-Fi scan only mode which promises to save your battery. What it essentially does is to scan for Wi-Fi networks even if Wi-Fi is off and use that information to improve the accuracy of your location.
As we look at the overall performance, even a layman user can notice a performance improvement. In my personal comparisons using a Nexus 4 with v 4.2.2 and v 4.3 side by side, Nexus 4 with 4.3 booted significantly sooner than the Nexus 4 with 4.2.2. Apart from that, the animations in the 4.3 version seemed fluid which was noticeably better. Hence even if Android 4.3 is not the key upgrade we’ve been waiting for, it certainly adds a couple of tweaks of its own.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean Review
Android 4.2 was released by Google on the 29th of October 2012 at their event. It is a practical combination of ICS and Honeycomb for tablets. The major difference we found out can be summed up with the Lock screen, camera app, gesture typing and multi user availability. We will look at these features in depth to understand what they offer in Layman’s terms.
One of the most important features introduced with v4.2 Jelly Bean is the multi user capability. This is only available for tablets which enable a single tablet to be used among your family very easily. It lets you have your own space with all the customization you need starting from the lock screen to applications and games. It even lets you have your own top scores in the games. The best thing is that you don’t really have to log in and log off; instead you can simply and seamlessly switch which is just great. A new keyboard has been introduced that can make use of gesture typing. Thanks to the advancements of Android dictionaries, now the typing app can offer you suggestions for your next word in the sentence which enables you to type the whole sentence using selection of words offered by the app. The speech to text ability is also improved, and it is available offline as well unlike Apple’s Siri.
Android 4.2 offers a new immersive experience with the camera by offering Photo Sphere. It’s a 360 degree photo stitching of what you have snapped, and you can view these immersive spheres from the smartphone as well as share them on Google + or add them in Google Maps. The camera app has been made more responsive, and it starts super quick, as well. Google has added a component called Daydream for idling people like me where they display useful information when idling. It can get information from Google current and many more sources. Google Now is also alive than ever making your life easy for you before you even think about making it easy. It now has the ability to indicate photogenic spots nearby and to track packages easily.
The notification system is at the core of Android. With v4.2 Jelly Bean, notifications are fluid than ever. You have expandable and resizable notifications all in one place. The widgets are also improved, and now they automatically resize depending on the components added to a screen. Interactive widgets are expected to be facilitated more in this operating system, as well. Google hasn’t forgotten to improve the accessibility options, as well. Now the screen can be magnified using three tap gestures and visually impaired users can now interact with the fully zoomed screen as well such as typing when zoomed in. The gesture mode enables seamless navigation through the smartphone for blind users along with the speech output.
You can simply beam photos and videos with v4.2 Jelly Bean on your smartphone. It’s easier than ever and more simple and elegant too. Google Search component has also been updated, and as an overall, the operating system has become faster and smoother. The transitions are silky, and an absolute pleasure to experience while the touch responses are more reactive and uniform. It also allows you to wirelessly stream your screen to any wireless display which is a cool feature to have.
A Brief Comparison Between Android 4.2 and 4.3
• Android 4.3 includes restricted multi-user profiles while Android 4.2 only had multi-user profiles.
• Android 4.3 supports Bluetooth Smart technology while Android 4.2 doesn’t support that.
• Android 4.3 supports Open GL ES 3.0 which translate in to smoother graphics performance and better gaming experience while Android 4.2 doesn’t support that.
• Android 4.3 includes additional enhancements to DRM policy, native dialer and keyboard etc. while Android 4.2 doesn’t include them.
• Android 4.3 allows developers better control over the notification center compared to Android 4.2.
This is another typical successor-predecessor relationship which would give out the trophy to the successor. However, when we talk about operating systems, underlying hardware plays a significant part, and as such, we can’t have a one to one mapping like in the successor predecessor relationship domain. Most of the time if your hardware is up for it, the successor OS would be better and improve the performance of your device. But if the hardware is not up for it, then the successor OS would clutter your experience as a user. Hence be wary about that when you decide to upgrade. Up to now, Android OS 4.3 is only available to Google official Nexus devices as the OTA updates and Google has also released the factory images. So if you are too impatient to wait until you get the OTA image, you could easily flash your device to the latest 4.3, as well. All in all, in my experience, the successor operating system is better in Nexus devices, and it should also be better in any high end smartphone or tablet device of the current generation. Of course, the choice whether to upgrade or not is entirely on your hands so make your decision count.