It's hard to believe Android Jelly Bean is turning one year old next month. Last year, Jelly Bean brought many welcome changes to the outgoing version, Ice Cream Sandwich, though it was largely an incremental update. Now we're about to get another taste of Google's latest dessert with Key Lime Pie, the next update to Android. From May 15-17th, Google will be hosting their annual I/O where you can expect to see many exciting announcements from the Mountain View company. In addition to the next iteration of Android, a wise man would bet on Google unveiling a new Motorola device thanks to their new partnership with Google. You'd also be in the majority if you thought a successor to each Nexus device could make an appearance, too.
To top it off, updates to Chrome OS and their portfolio of apps are expected.
With that said, Google has been tight-lipped about Key Lime Pie. Last year, we had heard some rumors before I/O in June, but this year, it's been relatively silent.
I'm happy we aren't inundated with wild rumors. Granted, we still have a month and a week before I/O, but I'm pleased it is shaping up to be truly surprising. Understandably, I have a wish list for Key Lime Pie, but first, here's a run down of what Android Jelly Bean added to Ice Cream Sandwich: Google Now and voice search, Project Butter, predictive keyboard with gestures, offline maps, interactive home screen widgets, offline voice dictation, and lock screen widgets.
Jelly Bean was largely an refresh to Ice Cream Sandwich, with the highlights being Google Now and Project Butter. Key Lime Pie has a solid foundation for true improvements to perfect the Android experience.
At this time last year, rumors circulated of Project Roadrunner, but Google announced Project Butter instead. But what happened with Project Roadrunner? It was dubbed a "fake" by many sites, but I think Google probably has another project going on behind the scenes. As it stands, Project Butter has greatly improved in the area Android has lacked in over the years: fluidity. Slight system stutters and a hint of lag, though often overstated, has plagued Android since the OS was first born. Now that fluidity is on-par with the competition, I'd like to see improvements to battery life.
Project Butter pushed the CPU and GPU to a constant 60 frames per second. In other words, the graphics enhancement came at the sacrifice of battery life due the CPU and graphics units running simultaneously. If there's one thing Project Roadrunner (if it exists) can address, it's battery drain. No matter how big the battery, system performance shouldn't be at the sacrifice of a dead battery.
As simple as it sounds, Google's Android could use a refresh to the black and blue theme of Jelly Bean. I wouldn't be opposed to something as bright as their Google Play Store theme. I'd even consider a set of grays, whites, and yellows as an improvement in contrast to the black and blue. It might sound trivial, but colors affect a user's mood when using their smartphone. Darker colors might work better with Google's preference for on-screen keys and their black background, but I think a third or fourth color would be a nice compliment. Remember, Ice Cream Sandwich also used the same color scheme, Google, so let's lighten it up.
Jelly Bean's ability to switch profiles was a welcome addition, but it could use improvement. On top of the ability to switch between system settings and preferences, Android would greatly benefit from call and messaging sync to Google Drive or Gmail. The ability to see call logs and an SMS log would improve accessibility across devices, and make factory resets less of a headache if you could restore from a backup. It could also serve as incentive to launch new devices with the latest version of Android. To top it off, system backup would make the transition from an old Android device to another much less of a headache.
The Internet has been ablaze with rumors of Google Babble (or Babel), a centralization of Google+ chat, Drive chat, and Google Talk. With that said, it would be an extremely obvious addition to Key Lime Pie. I'd be disappointed without it. Google's chat services have become extremely disconnected across their services. A unified messaging client could solve that dilemma and refine Android that much more. I'd like to see group messaging support and cross-platform capabilities, so here's to hoping we can still be surprised by all the babel.
Google brought toggles to Jelly Bean and I'm smitten by the addition. Part of me is thankful Google put thought into them. They're welcome additions and offer functionality that most manufacturers have added through their own UI's. The other part of me is disappointed by the implementation. Most of the toggles are simple shortcuts into the function instead of actual on-off switches of the functions themselves. In Key Lime Pie, toggle functions can be refined in the way most custom ROM's have implemented toggle functionality: short press (tap) to turn on or off, and long press to dive into the settings menu itself. This would be a welcome addition. I'd also welcome the ability to create a toggle out of anything, including app shortcuts and folders, to keep the home screen open for widgets.
So, what do you say, reader? Hit the comments below and tell me what you'd like to see in the next version of Android!
Image via Tweaktown.