By Alexandra Burlacu | Jul 26, 2013 04:45 AM EDT
The much-rumored Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is finally out of the bag, as Google made it official along with the launch of the new Nexus 7.
Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, as the name itself suggests, comes as a new iteration in the Jelly Bean cycle. That means that it's no major overhaul of the platform, but it does bring some new features and functionality for both developers and end users. Some highlights include Restricted Profiles, a redesigned camera interface, smoother animations and general performance improvements, as well as the long-awaited support for Bluetooth Low Energy.
Here's a rundown of the top features that Android 4.3 Jelly Bean has to offer:
1. Restricted Profiles
This feature will come in handy especially for Android users who have kids playing on their device. While Android already had support for multiple users, this version adds specific profiles that can be set with limitations. In other words, users can create separate environments for each user, keeping kids or others from sticking their nose into private matters.
"Each restricted profile offers an isolated and secure space with its own local storage, home screens, widgets, and settings," Google explains. "Unlike with users, profiles are created from the owner's environment, based on the tablet owner's installed apps and system accounts. The owner controls which installed apps are enabled in the new profile, and access to the owner's accounts is disabled by default."
2. Bluetooth Smart Ready Support
A new range of Bluetooth devices have invaded the market and they are Bluetooth Smart Ready, which means they are designed to act like sensors. For instance, one may monitor the user's heart rate, another may check step count and so on. What this means with Android 4.3's application programming interface (API) support for Bluetooth Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) is that Android apps will be able to support said devices.
3. OpenGL ES 3.0 for accelerated graphics
This may not make much of an impression on the average end user, but this functionality is actually a great benefit. OpenGL 3.0 allows for higher-quality graphics and potentially faster frame rates in games and videos. In other words, this feature will bring superior video experiences to high-end Android device users. Only the Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and Nexus 4 currently support it, but more devices are set to follow soon.
4. Notification Access
Notifications at the top of the display are very convenient and useful, but until Android 4.3 Jelly Bean developers did not have access to that stream of data. Now they do, provided that the Android user allows them. If a user gives their green light, developers can register a sort of notification monitoring service, which could allow them to create a whole new level of smart apps.
5. Digital Rights Management (DRM) APIs
While end users may not be too thrilled to hear about locked media content, this is greta news for content providers. Moreover, this better DRM functionality should help Google get even more providers to share their great libraries if they know their content is protected. Greater libraries, in turn, would benefit end users as well.
Google has also added new media DRM framework APIs, in addition to improving the previous ones. This will facilitate DRM management and video streams with DRM (virtually all of them now) should look and play better now.
Android 4.3 Jelly Bean Availability
As expected, Google's Nexus family of devices will be the first ones to boast the latest version of Android. While the new Nexus 7 will come with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean out of the box, the Nexus 4 smartphone and the original Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets will get the upgrade over the air (OTA). The Google Play editions of the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be next in line to get the new Jelly Bean taste.
When it comes to non-Nexus or Google Edition devices, Sony is the only manufacturer to announce which devices will (eventually) get the new Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Those devices include the Sony Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR, Xperia Tablet Z, Xperia SP and Xperia Z Ultra, with more to follow. HTC declined to offer details for now, while Samsung said it will make an announcement soon.
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