We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Operating systems software Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean review


Manufacturer: Google

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Google has launched the latest version of its Android operating system for smartphones and tablets so here's our review of 4.1 Jelly Bean. Updated on 27/07/12

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Dictation and keyboard input

Until Jelly Bean, the voice input feature of Android has required a data connection to function. Now, you can dictate an email or text message, for instance, regardless of whether you have a mobile or Wi-Fi connection. For English (US) this requires a 22MB download.

Android Jelly Bean Keyboard

We found the diction to be better than ever, managing to dictate entire emails and text messages without mistakes. Words appear on the screen almost immediately after they've left your mouth.

If you're not keen on talking to your device then Google has improved the Android keyboard with better predictive functionality. The keyboard will try to predict what word you want to type next giving a few options to choose from, in a similar way to Swiftkey.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Voice searchAndroid Jelly Bean Google Search

As usual you can use the microphone icon to perform a voice search, either from the home screen or within Google Now and Chrome. We found the recognition extremely accurate and the results are presented in a similar card format to Google Now with regular search results below.

Like Apple's Siri, you can get answers read back to you in an audible voice. It gets one over on Siri in the UK since you can search for local businesses and attractions.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Chrome

Google Chrome, on the Nexus 7 at least, is the default pre-loaded web browser. It offers an excellent tabbed browsing experience and things like bookmarks, most visited sites and even open tabs can be easily synchronised with the desktop version of Chrome. There are other nifty settings like how much you want the browser to scale text plus an automatic form filler for profiles and credit card details and saved passwords.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Flash

By far the biggest issue with 4.1 Jelly Bean is the lack of Flash support. This puts it in a similar position as the iPad where Flash-based web and video content is not accessible. Fans of BBC iPlayer and watching PC Advisors videos will be disappointed.

If you're happy to do a bit of hacking there is a way around this but ultimately Jelly Bean will be somewhat limited in this area until content providers and developers move away from Flash.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Camera App

The camera app in Jelly Bean has a couple of small tweaks making it better. When you take a photo a new animation shows it flying off the screen, swiping to the left will bring the last taken photo back into view and allow you to continue browsing through your other snaps. If you pinch zoom out while browsing you can delete pictures by swiping them off the top or bottom of the screen, and if you delete one by mistake you can undo it.

Android Jelly Bean Camera App

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Other changes

There are some smaller, but still noteworthy changes including the ability store contact photos as large as 720 x 720, making the contact page look better.

Android Beam now teams up with Bluetooth for sharing images, videos, or other files. When a transfer is started by tapping NFC devices together, Android Beam switches to Bluetooth to move the data.

The microUSB port found out almost every Android smartphone or tablet can now be used to send audio. This means hardware vendors can make things like speaker docks which use the physical port to play music.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.

Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) Expert Verdict »

Compatible Android device
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean isn't a big update to the operating system. What it is, however, is a fine tuned and slicker and more efficient version of 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Highlights are much smoother, iOS-like performance and the Google Now predictive search feature. The only major negative element is the lack of Flash support but this situation will improve over time.

  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich review

    Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

    Google's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich mobile operating system aims to deliver one experience for smartphones and tablets. Read our Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich review to find out if it has been a success.

  • Samsung Galaxy Young review: a budget Android Jelly Bean smartphone

    Samsung Galaxy Young: a budget Android Jelly Bean smartphone

    Samsung has a confusingly large amount of smartphones on offer, one of which is the budget-friendly Galaxy Young (S6310). Find out more in our Samsung Galaxy Young review.

  • Google Nexus 7 review: the benchmark cheap tablet

    Google Nexus 7: the benchmark cheap tablet

    The Nexus 7 is Google's first attempt at an own-brand tablet. But is it a failure or a game changer? Read our Nexus 7 review to find out.

  • LG Optimus G review

    LG Optimus G

    The LG Optimus G may well be the fastest smartphone with the most brilliant display available in the coming months. Here's our hands-on LG Optimus G review.

  • Google Nexus 7 tablet vs Amazon Kindle Fire HD comparison review

    Google Nexus 7 tablet vs Amazon Kindle Fire HD comparison

    Amazon has announced its Kindle Fire HD, its own-brand Android tablet. Naturally, we put it up against the Google Nexus 7, looking at the differences.

IDG UK Sites

Apple Watch UK release date, price and specs rumours: When is the iWatch coming out? Apple Watch...

IDG UK Sites

Why Apple is/isn’t building a car: statement of facts

IDG UK Sites

Sarofsky Corp mixes media for animated alcohol ad

IDG UK Sites

Apple Watch release date & UK price rumours: Watch event announced for 9 March