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Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update arrives: What’s new?

Nexus users rejoice! The new Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update is finally here and already making its way to your stock Android devices.

The update that featured as part of yesterday’s ‘Breakfast with Sundar’ Google event debuted on the new Nexus 7 tablet and Hugo Barra ran us through some of the key new features this latest update offers.

Android 4.3 Jelly Bean

Improved user account & restricted profiles

Those of you sporting a Nexus 7 or Nexus 10 will already be familiar with the multiple user account feature that came in with the last major Jelly Bean update, but now with Android 4.3, the ability to switch between accounts has been made even faster.

Android user accounts

Another key element, which Hugo showcased on stage, is the ability to now setup restricted profiles – a new type of user account with which limits which installed applications are accessible to the users, as well as whether or not they can make in-app purchases or buy content from the Play Store. A great addition for parents who want to restrict how much control their kids have over content on a tablet.

 

Smart Bluetooth 4.0 LE ready

Not only does Android 4.3 support the latest version of the Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy standard, but it allows compatibility with a myriad of Smart Ready products and services across automotive, healthcare, entertainment, home automation, security and fitness fields. In essence, expect now ways to interface with your Nexus devices throughout 2013 and beyond using Bluetooth.

 

Refined dial pad and text input

Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 users will appreciate the small but significant change made to their phone’s dialler. With Android 4.3, the moment you start tapping on the dial pad, suggested numbers and contacts begin to pop up, along the lines of a numerical autocomplete function.

Android keyboard

The text entry experience had been tuned up too, with Google promising better typing recognition, more accurate predictions and a more efficient, lower latency keyboard than before. The latency tweaks should also carry across to on-screen gaming controls too, so whether you’re composing and email of fragging alien scum, you’ll be able to do so that little bit faster.

 

OpenGL ES 3.0 means better visuals

If you’re a mobile gamer, then this addition will be greatly appreciated. Hugo showcased the first instance of OpenGL ES 3.0 running on Android 4.3, making this the first mobile platform to support the standard.

This latest iteration of OpenGL will allow developers and gamers alike to experience with higher quality textures, more advanced lighting effects: like bloom and anamorphic lens flare (see J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies for reference), as well as self casting shadows on more complex polygonal models.

We were shown a pair of demos one of which was running in the popular Unity gaming engine. Check out the capture (above) from yesterday’s livestream acquired by PixelPlanet.org and expect mobile gaming to look a whole lot better from the second half of 2013 onwards.

 

Google Play Games hub

I/O 2013 gave us a glimpse at the future gaming ecosystem Google was looking to implement into Android. Yesterday we saw the new Google Play Games app, which pulls contacts from your Google+ Circles in order to set up multiplayer matches with friends, shows you what games your friends have been playing and allows you the ability to track your achievements and compare your scores.

The app itself will come as part of the 4.3 update, but is now available to download from the Play Store for free too. It’s compatible with devices running 2.2 Froyo and up.

 

Disabled apps tab

A small addition to be found in the app management section of Android 4.3 is that disabled apps now have their down dedicated tab, letting you quickly see which apps are out of action and allowing you the ability to re-enable them in a couple of taps.

 

Availability

The Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update is already rolling out to the Nexus 4, 7 and 10 and will also grace the Samsung Galaxy Nexus too. In true Google fashion, 4.3 might take a little time to reach your device, so you can either be patient or take matters into your own hands and download the relevant image direct from Google’s developer site here (bearing in mind this method will wipe your device in the process).

Nexus 4, 7, 10

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