Google Unveils Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, Brings Minor Improvements to OS

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Android Jelly Bean 4.3As suspected, Google officially announced the next version of its Android OS at its San Francisco press event today. Perhaps less predictable, however, is that Android 4.3 will once again still be known as Jelly Bean and will feature only minor additions.

In what is probably the most significant addition for users, there will now be restricted profiles as part of the multi-user interface, which is an ideal feature for parents. For example, parents can restrict what apps and/or content can be accessed by their children’s profiles, while certain features like in-app purchases can also be blocked.

Android 4.3 will also feature support for Bluetooth Smart devices, which will include low-energy consuming peripherals. One example of Bluetooth Smart tech would be fitness peripherals; during the press conference, the ability to link an Android 4.3 device up with a Bluetooth heart rate monitor was demonstrated.

On the dev front, Android 4.3 will also feature support for OpenGL ES 3.0, an API for rendering photo-realistic graphics, which is obviously great news for game developers. There will also be new DRM APIs for HD content (though during the press conference, this feature was specifically referred to in the context of tablets), and Netflix will be one of the first partners to use them.

The update to Android features a number of other small improvements, including support for Bluetooth AVRCP, dial pad autocomplete, and easier text input. And while users may have had to wait a bit beyond Google’s I/O conference earlier this year for the arrival of the updated OS, some users won’t have to wait much longer now: the over-the-air update to Android 4.3 will begin rolling out today, arriving first on the latest Nexus devices. No news yet on when third-party device makers will roll out the update, but the Google Play editions of the Galaxy S4 and HTC One are expected to be updated “very soon.”

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