Four things I'm hoping to see in the Jelly Bean release of Android

Although we could be at least a half year away from an announcement, it's never too early to start wishing for features.

Kiwi, lime, or green apple flavored, I just want Jelly Bean! Jelly Belly

If the last few releases of Android are any indication, chances are good that we'll see Jelly Bean unveiled at Google I/O in June.

But even if Google makes that deadline, we'll likely end up waiting a few more months before Jelly Bean is actually released, perhaps with a Nexus device. So with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to put together a few ideas as to what I'd like to see in Jelly Bean. While some of this list is based on real-world expectation, others would make for a great mobile experience.

Google Assistant
We've heard for a while that Google is prepping its own official answer to Apple's Siri . At one time it was rumored that Google's feature was operating under the codename of Project Majel and that it would be available in the coming months.

The latest round of whispers advise that Google will release Project Majel by the fourth quarter of the year. I don't know about you, but I think that this is exactly the type of feature you'd tie into a new build of Android. Sure, we could see pieces and parts of it made available as a separate download, but Google Assistant would the sort of feature that the company show off in advertisements.

Yes, it would be strange to see Google announce something that has already been available on Android with third-party apps for some time now. What's more, it would be ironic to view Google as countering Siri even with its own app. But that said, if anyone can help promote the power of reliable search, it would be Google.

Google Drive
As more companies and services step into the cloud storage and mobile accessibility arena, it becomes increasingly apparent that Google needs to announce its own model. With upwards of 8GB of storage in Gmail and another 1GB in Google Docs, it makes sense to offer users a central location for backing up all things Google. After all, there are plenty of other apps that could take advantage of this cloud hosting, including Google+, Google Voice (SMS), and Google Books. And speaking of which, does anyone else find it silly that we can't upload our PDFs and other books to read through Google Books?

Full-Featured Google Voice
I've been anxiously awaiting a fully realized Google Voice experience for years now and think that the time is right for Google to make the move. I'm talking, of course, about building in voice-over-IP call functions, essentially driving a wedge between consumer and carrier. We're at a point now where calling minutes are unlimited, but data use is not. So why don't we just use these 4G networks and Wi-Fi connections to make calls since voice communication is about the last thing we do on smartphones anymore?

One advantage I see here is that it would help to alleviate network strain as consumers more actively seek Wi-Fi hotspots. Sure, there are countless ways that carriers and other industry players may drag their feet, but the day is coming. I've already turned all of my old inactive Android handsets (and Wi-Fi tablets!) into Google Voice devices capable of making and receiving calls. If you're interested in learning more, definitely check out Groove IP.

Scaling things down a bit, I'd really like to see better support for Google Voice services including SMS and longer messages. I'd also prefer to see Voice included in the standard suite of Google apps that come preloaded on stock Android smartphones. Those of us with existing accounts should be able to log in and sync everything up just like we do with Gmail and apps. I can understand why this doesn't happen today as tablets don't offer calling support, but that's all the more reason to give us VoIP.

Added Personality
This one might be a bit silly to some of you, but I'd like to see more options to customize a handset to my liking. Don't get me wrong--I love the blue hue of Ice Cream Sandwich and Honeycomb, but it shouldn't be all that hard to change color schemes. Samsung does a good job of letting users pick fonts for use throughout its devices and it's an easy way to tailor an experience. It doesn't have to be much but just a little something between stock Android and some of the custom ROMs out there.

Carriers and OEMs could still brand their device with custom fonts, color schemes, and other features but without adding extra baggage. Don't like the way Motorola and Verizon dressed your Droid 15 up with all that sci-fi and red? Just go to settings and pick something more to your liking. This would also help cut down on the time it takes to release future updates to particular models.

I've only touched on four topics here and I'm sure that you have ideas of your own. What would you like to see in the next release of Android? Is there something that's missing at a fundamental level or are we just being nit-picky?

 

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