Android 4.2 adds multiple users and panoramic photos, copies Swype and AirPlay
Google's new Nexus devices will come loaded with Android 4.2, a new flavor of Jelly Bean. Here's a rundown of the new features you can expect with the updated OS.
Jaymar CabebeFormer Associate Editor
Jaymar Cabebe covers mobile apps and Windows software for CNET. While he may be a former host of the Android Atlas Weekly podcast, he doesn't hate iOS or Mac. Jaymar has worked in online media since 2007.
Swype fans will be pleased to hear that Android 4.2 includes a keyboard that lets users input text via gliding gestures. Not only that, it offers predictions based on common strings of word combinations for "smarter" typing. While the news is certainly good for users who get a significantly improved input interface, it could be harmful to a company like SwiftKey, which just announced its own glide-supporting, predictive keyboard for Android.
Also part of 4.2 is a 360-degree panoramic photo feature called Photo Sphere. While third-party apps for panoramic photos have existed on Google Play for quite some time, this updated version of Google's baked-in panorama mode is unique in its ability to stitch together shots in all directions, vertically, and horizontally.
Tablet users get a little something extra as well, as the tablet-optimized version of Android 4.2 adds support for multiple users. Users get their own home screens, backgrounds, widgets, apps, and so on, and it's easy to switch between accounts right from the lock screen. Because tablets are often shared among family members, this feature could give Android devices a huge leg up over the iPad, which can only support and sync to a single user account.
Perhaps the sexiest feature to come with 4.2 is support for Miracast, an AirPlay-like protocol that allows users to wirelessly stream both audio and video directly from mobile device to television set, without having to go through a wireless network. Developed by the not-for-profit Wi-Fi Alliance, Miracast has tremendous potential, as it has garnered support from both LG and Samsung, with both companies already incorporating the technology into select devices.
Lastly, Android 4.2 brings with it the newest version of Google Now, which has added a handful of useful "cards" to its fast-growing collection. Now, the service can automatically notify you of flight information, restaurant reservations, hotel confirmations, and shipping details, all before you even ask.