Google just made Android 4.2 official. This won’t be a dramatic upgrade, but it will bring some new features to this operating system for smartphones and tablets.
Even Google seems to agree that this isn’t a huge step forward, as Android 4.2 will have the same code name as version 4.1: Jelly Bean.
Still, the company was willing to brag about Photo Sphere, which will let users capture images of their entire surroundings — up, down and all around to create a 360-degree picture. These can be shared on Google+ or even Google Maps.
The next version of Android is going to include Gesture Typing, which lets users glide their finger over the letters they want to type on the keyboard, rather than punching them. This will be similar to Swype.
A feature that’s likely to make some very happy is widgets on the lock screen. And there will be multiple lock screens to give room for many widgets. Google even added screensavers.
In addition, Android 4.2 will offer support for wireless display, allowing users to send movies, YouTube videos, and games to Miracast-compatible HDTVs.
As some families share a tablet, a feature many have asked Google for is the ability to share a single device with multiple people. With Android 4.2, they can add multiple users and switch between them from the lockscreen. This will give people access to their own stuff — email, apps, bookmarks, their favorite home screens, their own music, and even their own high scores.
As people generally don’t share smartphones, this will be a tablet-only feature.
Updates for Google Now and Google Play
Google Now debuted with Android 4.1, and was designed to give smartphone and tablet users the information they need, even before the users realize they need it. Android 4.2 will include new types of information: restaurant reservations, flight information, hotel confirmations, and shipping details.
The Google Play store will soon include publications from Time, Inc., such as InStyle, People, Time, and others. In addition, Warner Music Group’s full music catalog is being added.
Upgrades for other products in the Nexus line are expected in the coming weeks.