Android 4.1 is coming
Many people will be making the leap to Android 4.0.4 when they buy or take out a new Samsung S3 on contract. Android 4.0.4 is a huge step up from the most popular version of Android (2.x), and is a fully functional and operating OS that now rivals, and in some cases exceeds other mobile Operating Systems such as iOS 6 on Apple machines, and Windows 7 or 8 on Windows powered phones. Android has always been an Operating System that can be as simple as you want it to be, as complicated as you want it to be, and as customizable as you need it to be. It’s come a long way since its early days, and its 4.0.x iteration has become the most usable mobile OS available, and is a stable and fast environment in which to work. So, Android 4.1 has started to be released by various networks around the world, and will soon be released in both the UK and USA. As always, my articles are based on stock devices, for those who want to root their devices and risk affecting the warranty on their mobile handsets, they can already try the delights of Android 4.1.
The keyboard is already very impressive on the S3, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem to want to spell what you want it to spell when using T9 or swipe-to-type. With Android 4.1, Google has worked its magic by offering a smarter keyboard with greatly enhanced dictionaries. Text to speech has been improved, making sending texts or writing notes easier than ever before.
Enhanced Pop-Up Video
Another great feature for the S3’s version of Android 4.1 is a re-sizable pop-up window for multi-tasking. For those who have not used a Samsung S3 before, you can basically watch a pop-up video screen while doing anything else with the phone. It’s a useful feature, and with Android 4.0 the size of the play screen for the video was pretty small. Thankfully now the video play area can be expanded, really making a great feature even more fun to use.
Widgets, Modes and Notifications
There have also been improvements to the menu settings and widgets, with things moved around to make them more accessible. There is now an easy mode for widgets, which offers easy-to-use widgets for favorites and recently used applications. Widgets now re-size automatically when you put them on your home-screens, and if there’s not enough room they will re-size other things on the screen. There is also a new blocking mode which works in a similar way to Apple’s “Do Not Disturb” feature. Notification announcements have also been improved, and tweaked so that everything makes a lot more sense now when you look at your phone and wonder what has just happened; they are fully expandable and this is another little tweak that has made a big difference.
Google Now has now been added to Android 4.1 on the S3, and is Google’s latest bit of software that can be quite useful in everyday use. As it says on Google’s website, “[Google Now] tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team’s score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically. Cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them”. It should be the perfect complement to the Samsung S3’s already great Operating System, and really is another welcome addition.
One impressive update to Android 4.1 on the Samsung S3 means that they have now improved the speed at which it recharges its batteries. They’ve also made improvements to battery management, meaning that you will get more talk-time out of your fully charged battery. It really is amazing what software updates are capable of!
Camera and Recording
The final main enhancement is the ability to pause while video recording on the Samsung S3’s stunning 1080p video recording options: again, another small but useful update that makes a huge difference to those people who use it. There are also other improvements which I will look at in the official release.
There is apparently a lot more under the hood, and I will be doing a full review on Android 4.1 when it is officially released in the UK/USA. If you have anything you’d like to add, or already are lucky enough to have an official release in your country, then please let us know.