Android 4.2 adds multi-user support for tablets
Google has announced Android 4.2, described as "a new flavor of Jelly Bean", which adds a number of new features to Android 4.1 but is essentially the same OS. One long awaited addition is multi-user support for tablets; users will get their own apps and data but apps are shared locally so only one user has to download or update an application. An application will appear as a fresh instance when another user installs it. When a user switches to another account, if there is a task to be completed, such as a download or a sync, the app is allowed to run in the background. The change should make it easier to share a tablet within a household.
Android 4.2 also sees a swipe-style support for gesture typing, where the user drags their finger between keys and a lockscreen which now supports widgets. New expandable notifications will let users take actions from the notification rather than having to go into the app that generated the notification to respond. Accessibility has also received some attention; triple tapping will magnify the entire screen and two finger gestures will allow the user to pan and zoom. Visually impaired users will find speech output and gesture mode navigation has now been added to the operating system.
Google's Now application has also been enhanced to use Gmail as a data source for new information along with an improved flight tracker and better reservations and recommendations. It will also suggest interesting views for taking photos on a new photo spot card which uses a user's current location. While there, users can use the new "Photo Sphere" function to take enhanced panorama photographs which are more like Google's Street View imagery.
Google has also implemented support for Miracast, a Wi-Fi Alliance Wi-Fi display sharing protocol which will let devices stream audio and video to TVs. Miracast will be taking on Apple's AirPlay system but is expected to be integrated into TVs next year; standalone Miracast boxes are also expected soon.
The company has also announced a range of new devices on which the new version of Android will be showcased. These are a new Nexus 4 smartphone from LG, a Nexus 10 tablet built by Samsung and an upgraded version of ASUS' Nexus 7 tablet. The Nexus 7 has received a memory upgrade, with 16GB and 32GB versions available in the near future, shipping with Android 4.1. Not yet available though is a 32GB Nexus 7 with 3G connectivity, due in mid-November.
The Nexus 10, on the other hand, is an entirely new design. It has a ten-inch screen with a resolution of 2560×1600 pixels which exceeds the resolution on Apple's Retina display for the iPad. It will be available with 16 or 32GB of internal memory and is powered by a dual-core A15 processor. Finally, LG's Nexus 4 smartphone is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU and includes 8 or 16GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM. Details of the new devices are available on Google's Play store along with options to be notified when the Nexus 4 and 10 are available.