After what seemed like an eternity, Verizon finally started pushing out the Galaxy Nexus Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update on Friday last week, meaning the last Nexus device in the United States finally was updated with the latest software from Google.
To be quite honest, I thought that it might have taken Verizon longer. The carrier is notorious for being slow to updates and the fact that it took five months for it to roll out the first bug update to the Galaxy Nexus made me think that it might take longer to get it to Jelly Bean.
Luckily, Verizon took far less time to roll out Android 4.1 Jelly Bean for the Galaxy Nexus.
As it stands, many Galaxy Nexus owners are still without Jelly Bean. Some got it OTA on Friday over the weekend, others were able to update using the trick I told you about earlier.
I decided to wait, just to see how long it would take, and finally got the software this morning. And per usual, I wanted to share my quick, initial thoughts about the update.
I’ve already been using Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on the Nexus 7 and from that experience, I expected Android 4.1 Jelly Bean to be a massive improvement over the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich experience on my Galaxy Nexus.
Thus far, the software is everything I hoped it would be.
One of the biggest features that comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is the improved user interface. And I’m not talking about cosmetic changes. I’m talking about improvements to its speed and to its fluidity.
There were times when I would lag when switching between home screens in Ice Cream Sandwich. I also experienced sluggishness when trying to open up applications. It was never horrible but there certainly was room for improvement.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is that improvement. With Jelly Bean and Project Butter, the overall speed and performance of Android on my Verizon Galaxy Nexus has improved immensely. Seriously, there is a noticeable difference between the UI in Ice Cream Sandwich and the one in Jelly Bean.
For example, now, when I tap a widget or switch between home screens, it’s virtually instant. Thus far, I’ve experienced very little lag while opening up apps or moving between my different home screens.
I’ve only had Jelly Bean on my Galaxy Nexus for a few hours now but fortunately, I haven’t seen any sort of a dip in battery life yet. And trust me, I’ve been putting it through some intense testing.
The battery life on my Galaxy Nexus, which was once terrible, became adequate with the arrival of the bug fix update and doesn’t seem phased by the new software.
I’m still hoping for an improvement but at this point, I can’t tell.
I’ve been just about everywhere in and around the new software with my Galaxy Nexus and thus far I’ve not found any major bugs. I’ve been hearing that some people are experiencing even lower volume with their speakers but as of right now, I can’t say that I’ve got a similar issue.
Bugs tend to show themselves as time goes on so I may stumble upon a few in the days ahead.
Google Now is one of the new, highly touted features in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Based on Google search history, it’s going to help inform you of events, activities and more. It also now includes Emergency Alerts and sports scores and it should get more updates as time goes on.
For example, if I were to be flying out of LAX for Frankfurt, Germany, it would let me know if my flight was delayed. It’s also useful for those who commute to work as it stores information for traffic alerts.
I’ve found it to be useful on occasion with my Nexus 7 but it’s not necessarily my favorite feature in Jelly Bean.
Maybe my favorite feature in Jelly Bean, besides the super fast UI, is the expanded Notifications that Google has included along with the new software.
When I pull down my Notifications from the top of my Galaxy Nexus, I am now treated to a host of expanded Notifications that show me the first few lines of emails or if I get a missed call, I can call or text back directly from the notification. It also shows me some of the cards I’ve set up when using Google Now so I have quick access to things I care about most.
I am constantly checking on my Notifications and this expanded functionality is extremely useful to me, and it likely will be for you as well.
New Google App Drawer
Something else that’s often overlooked in the Jelly Bean discussion is the new Google App Drawer that Google places front and center on your home screen.
While many may move it to a distant part of the phone, I actually enjoy it on my first home screen because it offers easy access to the features that I use the most. Chief among those, Gmail and Google Talk.
The new app drawer also helps to keep clutter on my home screens down.
Plain and simple, the browser zips over the previous version. While there might not be support for Flash anymore, I really haven’t noticed. What I have noticed is that it’s much faster than the Ice Cream Sandwich browser and even sites that are content intensive are handled without a problem.
Scrolling around is smooth and fast and of course, content looks great on the HD display.
Other features that I enjoy in Jelly Bean so far include the new Camera app functionality which allows me to easily navigate and take photos with simple swiping and pinch gestures.
Another feature that works as advertised and will come in handy for me while writing on-the-go is the offline voice dictation feature that lets me talk out posts or notes to myself, even without an internet connection. It’s also especially useful for when I am working out of the office and in a place where internet is spotty.
I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my home screens and the new resizable widgets help ease my anxiety by automatically adjusting when an icon might be in the way.
I’ve never used Face Unlock so the new functionality there doesn’t concern me and I’ve yet to use Android Beam, even though it’s a feature that Google hyped up in the past.
Should You Upgrade to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean?
If you are using a phone that is capable of upgrading to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and are thinking about upgrading, my simple response to you is yes, do the upgrade.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is a very good operating system but Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is a great operating system, improving on just about everything in Ice Cream Sandwich while adding even more.
Simply, this is Google’s best Android operating system yet and you won’t want to miss out.
How are you liking Jelly Bean thus far, Verizon Galaxy Nexus owners?
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