Mobile

Here’s what Android 4.3 brings to the table

Image Credit: Jolie O'Dell/VentureBeat

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.

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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