Android 4.2 Jelly Bean: Photo Sphere and more new features

Photo Sphere, Gesture Typing and more -- here's what's new in the latest version of Android.

Forget Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and put Ice Cream Sandwich far out of mind -- the latest edition of Google's mobile operating system is officially Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and it's arriving with a slew of tricks up its sleeves.

Multiple users

Ideal if you own an Android tablet -- Android 4.2 introduces multiple users, so you can have different profiles, homescreens, backgrounds and app selections for different people. You can switch between user profiles without having to log out and back in.

This feature is something iPad owners have been crying out for, so it's interesting to see Android get the jump on Apple. It's only going to be available on tablets for now.

Wireless display

You can now share your smart phone's screen with that of an HD telly over Wi-Fi, so long as you've got a wireless display adaptor to plug into your gogglebox. Anything that's on your screen will be displayed, so this could come in handy for big-screen gaming, or more everyday things like watching movies.

Photo Sphere camera

Android 4.2 comes with a new camera feature, called Photo Sphere, which is designed for taking 360-degree photos. If you're having trouble imagining that, it's basically a photo mode that turns you into a human Google Street view camera.

The Big G has set up a site where you can check out other people's panoramic efforts -- expect to see Android fans rotating slowly on the spot very soon. The panoramas you create can be navigated by dragging around on the screen, and can be uploaded to Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Search and Google Plus Local.

Gesture Typing

Those familiar with SwiftKey will already know how this feature works -- you drag your digit along the Android keyboard, moving your finger from one key to the next without letting it leave the screen.

Using evil magic algorithms, the keyboard figures out what you're trying to say, meaning you don't even have to input spaces. I'm looking forward to testing out this new feature.

Daydream

Here's a pleasant -- if pointless -- new feature. When your Android gadget is idle or stuck in a dock, it'll flick through photos or display news stories, without you having to do anything. This would be useful for anyone who works with an Android tablet in a dock by their side.

Expandable notifications

With Android 4.2, when you tap on a notification in the notification bar, it'll expand slightly and give you some options. For example, if the notification is for an event in the calendar, you can send an email to everyone who's down to attend.

Those are the most intriguing new features -- but also look out for weather reports, movie times and train schedules in Google Now. The first Jelly Bean 4.2 devices will be the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 10 , which are both due to launch in the UK on 13 November.

Are you excited about Jelly Bean 4.2? What version of Android are you using? Tell me in the comments or on our Facebook wall.

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Software
About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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