Flashback: thanking Android Jelly Bean for the buttery interface and multimedia enhancements

Flashback: thanking Android Jelly Bean for the buttery interface and multimedia enhancements

As Google prepares to retire Android Jelly Bean to the good farm within the cloud the place it may play with the alphabetically smaller variations, we thought this could be an excellent time to take a look again at a life properly lived.

Jelly Bean first arrived in 2012 with Android model 4.1, however the identify would stick round for 2 extra minor releases (4.2 and 4.3). 9 years is a very long time for an working system, particularly within the cell world. Even a desktop OS like Home windows 10 will stick round for under 10 years (it was launched in 2015 and Microsoft will finish prolonged help in 2025).

Flashback: thanking Android Jelly Bean for the buttery interface and multimedia improvements

However earlier than we speak about Jelly Bean, we now have to set the stage. Android’s early interface was promising if fairly clunky, which led most makers to pores and skin it – again then skins had been noticeably higher than inventory UI. Android 2.Three Gingerbread (which we coated in a earlier installment) was the final model earlier than a serious cut up.

Android 3.zero Honeycomb launched Holo UI, but it surely was a model made completely for tablets. Months later model 4.zero Ice Cream Sandwich introduced Holo to the smaller shows of telephones. The ICS model of Holo was extra minimalistic, whereas Honeycomb had a contact of futuristic aptitude.

Flashback: thanking Android Jelly Bean for the buttery interface and multimedia improvements

Now that the look of the interface was settled, it was time to make it run easy – easy as butter. This work was finished below Undertaking Butter, after all. What it did was introduce triple buffering for the UI and utilized vsync timing to all drawing and animation. This made every part run in lockstep with the display screen refresh cycle, an ordinary 60 Hertz on the time. To assist the {hardware} alongside, JB made the CPU go into its highest efficiency mode the second you touched the show, in order that it might replace the display screen as quick as potential.

One other main enchancment was expandable notifications. This allowed notifications to carry extra content material than earlier than, clearly, but it surely added a brand new function too – they may present as much as three buttons, giving the person immediate entry to key actions. For instance, a missed name notification would provide the choice to name or message the one who known as you.

Jelly Bean additionally touched up the homescreen. It enabled reside wallpapers to be previewed earlier than making use of them and it launched resizable widgets.


Expandable notifications with actions
Resizable widgets that would rearrange automatically

Expandable notifications with actions • Resizable widgets that may rearrange robotically

Android Beam was launched with 4.zero Ice Cream Sandwich, however this preliminary model solely used NFC to ship hyperlinks – to web sites and even apps (with the hyperlink pointing to the Play Retailer). Jelly Bean added Bluetooth to the equation, permitting you to share pictures, movies and different recordsdata as properly.

Beam was discontinued with Android 10 and there’s a battle for its throne. Google sees its Quick Share because the substitute, but it surely nonetheless isn’t fairly prepared. For instance, you may’t use it to share a file with a Home windows or ChromeOS pc. Lately, a bunch of smartphone makers have banded collectively within the different Mutual Switch Alliance, to unify the in-house options they developed individually.

Flashback: thanking Android Jelly Bean for the buttery interface and multimedia improvements

Sensible App Updates allowed the Play Retailer to ship delta updates, that’s to switch solely the bits that modified between variations, as an alternative of repeating knowledge the telephone already has. On common (by Google’s calculations) this shrunk updates to 1/third of a full obtain. Later this yr Google will make a serious shift in how this works by requiring App Bundles to be uploaded to the Play Retailer as an alternative of APKs. These can shrink even the preliminary obtain of an app by skipping the elements not wanted on a specific machine.

One other change was to encrypt the property of paid apps utilizing device-specific keys. This made it more durable to, say, copy a recreation from one machine to a different.

Jelly Bean additionally considerably improved audio help on Android, which was lagging behind iOS. It added help for multichannel audio by HDMI ports, additionally the AAC codec grew to become supported by default (together with AAC 5.1 audio). Hole-less playback made telephones a lot better music gamers and the Media Router button gave a standardized solution to direct the audio to the headphones or to Bluetooth receivers. This model additionally included help for USB Audio, which allowed exterior DACs to be plugged in.

All this and extra got here with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. It was adopted by model 4.2 just a few months later. It improved on Undertaking Butter with a quicker hardware-accelerated 2D renderer, which leveraged the GPU.

4.2 additionally launched lockscreen widgets, which had been well-liked for some time, however have fallen out of favor since. Daydream, an interactive screensaver mode was additionally launched and alter dropped (the identify was repurposed for Google’s now-defunct VR platform).


Lockscreen widgets
Project Daydream (screensaver)

Lockscreen widgets • Undertaking Daydream (screensaver)

Some options did stick round – 4.2 introduced correct exterior show help. Earlier variations might solely mirror the show, the second iteration of JB allowed apps to deal with every show individually. That is the idea of desktop modes we see in the present day. Wi-fi shows had been additionally supported, utilizing the Miracast customary. Sound was additional improved with help for low-latency audio.

External display support with presentation mode
Exterior show help with presentation mode

The entire Bluetooth stack was swapped out, dropping BlueZ in favor of an open-source undertaking co-developed by Google and Broadcom. This model launched many extra enhancements to connectivity and safety.

Brand new Bluetooth stack
Model new Bluetooth stack

4.2 improved the digital camera with HDR help, an early step into computational images, which might go on to turn out to be crucial function of recent smartphone cameras (extra necessary than even the sensor and lens).

The final model of Jelly Bean, Android 4.Three arrived in 2013. It added help for Bluetooth Low Power and the Audio/Video Distant Management Profile 1.3. Additionally, the graphics stack was improved with OpenGL ES 3.zero help.

Maybe most necessary of all was the addition of emoji help. They had been fairly plain black-and-white emojis (colour was added with v4.4), however now you can swap the keyboard to emoji mode and keep away from pesky letters and phrases in your messages. You possibly can see the Jelly Bean emojis here.

Flashback: thanking Android Jelly Bean for the buttery interface and multimedia improvements

There have been different adjustments too. For instance, v4.Three included a VP8 encoder as Google was attempting to maneuver away from patent-encumbered codecs. Additionally, all three incarnations of Jelly Bean added incremental enhancements to Proper-To-Left (RTL) languages.

Improved RTL support for the interface and text input
Improved RTL help for the interface and textual content enter

Google stopped publishing Android model distribution numbers a while in the past, however by 2019 all three variations of Jelly Bean had fallen to round 3% market share. The corporate stated that they now account for lower than 1%, which is why it determined to cease updating Play Providers for these older variations.

Android version distribution in mid-2019
Android model distribution in mid-2019

Here’s a little bit of trivia – Jelly Bean was the final Android model to succeed in 50% market share. Regardless of Google’s exhausting work at simplifying the replace course of for makers, no Android model since JB has managed to realize a majority share.

Anyway, gadgets working Jelly Bean can proceed working and even downloading apps from the Play Retailer, although they received’t see many (if any) updates for these apps.

Do you continue to have a functioning Jelly Bean machine? Drop a line within the feedback to inform us what it’s and what you utilize it for – and perhaps take into account retiring it or a minimum of flashing a newer model of Android.

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