Google's Android 4.1 operating system, "Jelly Bean," is here, and it's one smooth experience. I tried it out on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and found Jelly Bean to be a lot faster and more responsive than Android 4.0, a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich. It also crashes less often.
The first thing you'll notice is how smooth this new operating system is. The touchscreen is lightning fast--as soon as your finger touches the screen it responds. The secret ingredient: Google's Project Butter, a processing technology designed to speed up the CPU and graphics for a drag-free user experience at 60 frames per second. In general, there's no lag time when opening apps. It is easy to scroll between different screens. And the UI looks good.
The bonus here is that you can save all your entertainment to be viewed off-line. You can "pin" it so you can listen to your music, for instance, while you have no data connection. When you are connected, you can scroll down for more information or tap and share content with others.
Android 4.1 also is the safest Google operating system to date. New authentication capabilities protect you against hacks into your phone's personal information by encrypting apps with a device-specific key before they're installed.
Google Voice does not sound as sexy as Siri, but it works great. Use it to find a restaurant or check the weather. Another darn good personal assistant feature is Google Now, which melds your personal information with location to pop up reminders throughout the day.
Jelly Bean has an improved version of Android Beam, a near-field communication (NFC) technology that, when turned on, lets you send others photos, videos, URLs, and other info simply by tapping your devices together.
Google's online store, Google Play, looks interesting. Although it hasn't really gained traction with developers, it definitely has its selling points. It allows developers to use features such as authentication and add social layers such as Google+ in their apps. Also, when there's an update Google Play delivers just the update, not the entire app.
Watch my demo of Jelly Bean's best features in the video below.
Jelly Bean is a huge upgrade from Ice Cream Sandwich--smarter and faster. But I'm not sure I'm ready to give up my iOS device just yet; there's a bit of a learning curve. On the other hand, I bet if I spent some more time with the sweet Jelly Bean, I could acquire a taste for it.