Sunday, November 18, 2012

Android Jelly Bean update brings rewards & problems

Google has begun rolling out the latest update to Android users. But while Android 4.2 Jelly Bean offers some advantages, especially to tablet owners, there are some that are unhappy at the latest update.

Multiple user accounts

The incremental change to the the Android software gives tablet owners the facility to create multi-user accounts. This is a distinct advantage over the Apple iPad. Users can create their own screen lock password, wallpaper and layout, though some features, such as WiFi and screen brightness are shared [GottaBeMobile].

Cosmetic changes

There are also a few cosmetic changes to Android 4.2. The analogue clock has changed, dispensing of the dots signifying the hour marks and becoming a more simplified circle. There is also the facility to add widgets to the home unlock screen, the default being a digital clock display which can be changed to show times from around the world.

Another change of note is the introduction of a gesture based keyboard function. Gmail has been slightly improved too with swipe to clear and a pinch-to-zoom function. Some of the icons have also changed, which might lead to initial confusion for some users [Android Community].

Problems reported

While the new Nexus 10 tablet comes with Android 4.2 built in, Nexus 7 users have been receiving the update over the last week. But not all users have been entirely happy. Some have complained that the update has 'broken' their bluetooth connection with third party devices such as headsets and speakers. Others have reported stuttered playback of music. The numbers of affected users is difficult to clarify, but bugs are often seen in initial releases and are usually ironed out within weeks [CNET]. Some have also noted a bug where Google has 'deleted' December from its date picker where one would have added a birthday in contacts [TechCrunch / code.google.com]. A peculiar oversight, and one that is sure to be remedied soon.

No Flash 

The biggest bug bear however is that some apps have effectively been rendered useless by the update. Android Jelly Bean, like Apple products, does not support Adobe Flash. As such videos using this format cannot be played in the native Chrome browser.

While it is possible to use a different browser for devices beyond Android 4.0 it is not possible to install Adobe Flash directly from the Google Play store. Even where it can be installed manually, via a PC for example, it is not necessarily recommended. Furthermore Adobe say that "installing Flash Player on an uncertified device may result in unexpected behaviour and can potentially destabilize your device."

App incompatibilities

This is not good not news for those using the latest versions of Android. But it gets worse. Since many video applications use Flash to display content, these two remain incompatible with Google's latest Android devices.

Some app providers have updated their software to take account of this. The BBC for example eventually rolled out an update that enabled their iPlayer app to work on Android Jelly Bean 4.1. Unfortunately within only weeks of this being made available it has been rendered useless by the latest upgrade to Android 4.2. Hopefully this and other glitches with the latest update will be quickly resolved.

Low adoption

Since adoption of Jelly Bean accounts for only 2.7% of all Android users, the issues are not huge, but unless resolved could dissuade some from purchasing Google's latest range of Nexus devices.

Amongst Android fans there is anger that app developers do not prioritise the refining of applications for Android devices over Apple products. With Android fast becoming the dominant force in the smartphone market, and taking a key hold in the tablet market, there developers need to be even handed in their approach to both platforms.

No doubt there will be some Apple fanboys quietly sniggering at these issues to hit Android's flagship software. But the problems experienced by Nexus 7 users do pale into insignificance compared to the fiascos seen in Apple devices over the past few years including the aerial problems in the iPhone 4 and the latest Apple Maps debacle.

tvnewswatch, London, UK

2 comments:

AAREN said...
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Olivia Heartelly said...
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