SAN FRANCISCO — At a press breakfast this morning, Googlers explained some of the features of Android Jelly Bean 4.3, the latest iteration of the Android operating system.
The new Nexus 7 will be the first to run Android 4.3, and the mini-tablet is particularly apt for showing off some of the new tricks up Android’s lime-green sleeve.
One off the biggest changes is called Restricted Profiles. This is especially important for shared family devices. If you have a young child who loves playing games on your Nexus 7, for example, now you can not only switch to a special profile for little Amanda or whatever her name is. You can also restrict the exact applications Amanda can access and how those apps behave when she runs them.
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Android 4.3 also brings support for low-power Bluetooth Smart, which can deliver typical Bluetooth connection speed and range while using significantly less power.
Enhanced OpenGL support means better graphics, a huge boon for gamers. In an onstage demo, Googlers showed a car racing game with sparkling asphalt and gravel that rendered so well you could almost feel it crunch under your feet. It’s not a feature you’ll care much about while reading an e-book, but for video and games, better OpenGL support is huge.
Android 4.3 also brings background Wi-Fi-based location services, easier text input, auto-complete for your phone’s dial pad (so you don’t have to memorize your favorite pizza place’s number anymore), and faster switching between user profiles.
Additionally, 4.3 brings support for a few interesting new languages, including Hebrew, Arabic, Swahili, Zulu, Hindi, Afrikaans, and Amharic.
Another big chunk of significant software news for Android users is Textbooks, a whole new section in the Google Play store. Here, you can find, rent, or buy textbooks for college. And as Google reps pointed out, the Nexus 7 tablet is priced well for students, starting at just $230 for a 16GB model.
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