Google announces Android 4.2

Google is offering faster updates to the Android operating system by introducing Android 4.2. With this new update, Android expands the usability of the operating system in conjunction with the release of new Android devices.

The update doesn’t radically change anything featured in Android 4.1, but updates functions that users can take advantage of with supported devices. Google will be launching Android 4.2 as the default operating system in their new first-party Nexus branded devices that will be released mid-November. There currently isn’t a release date for Android 4.2 to be pushed devices like the Galaxy Nexus or the original Nexus 7.

Here’s what the latest Android operating system will include.

Google Now

Google is expanding the features of the cards used in Google Now. The service offers more personal information like flight information or tracking packages. It will also show restaurant reservations, events, and hotel reservations. With events, it will show you estimated traffic and send you a notification on when to leave in order to arrive on time.

Google Now will offer more relevant personal information with the new cards and become a better personal assistant with the 4.2 update.

Google Search and Knowledge Graph

The search feature gets an update by powering Google Search with the Knowledge Graph so you get better answers from your searches.

Photo Sphere

Another word for panoramic pictures, you can create “spheres” of images that look like Street View images that combine pictures into a 360 degree image. You can upload and share these images on Google Maps and Google+.

Gesture Typing

The default keyboard has always been easy to use and Android 4.2 adds Gesture Typing which is just like Swype. Other additions to the keyboard are better text prediction, updated default dictionary, improved text-to-speech, and voice typing. Android 4.2’s keyboard features also work offline.

Multiple Google accounts on one device

It’s been rumored for a while, but Android 4.2 now allows for multiple users to share one device. This option is only available on tablets.

Wireless Sharing

You can now share your content on your device to a HDMI-enabled TV via a wireless display adapter.

More minor updates

Daydream

A new type of screensaver, Daydream lets you show photos or receive feeds from Google Currents.

More Notification options

In the Notifications bar, you will be able to perform more actions like responding to missed calls or dealing with calendar events.

Lock screen Widgets

You can now place widgets on your lock screen for quick access without unlocking your phone to use them.

Quick Settings

Using multi-touch, swiping with two fingers will open a settings menu so you can adjust common options like brightness or checking the battery level.

Google Play Music Explorer

The Google Play app on Android 4.2 will offer a music discovery option for users.

Gmail

Gmail will auto-format messages in horizontal views and start pinch-to-zoom in emails.

Android 4.2 is a small update that adds more functionality to the existing OS. Google moved quickly from 4.1 to 4.2 showing that they are becoming a lot more serious with Android development. The only concern is if Google will always release new devices to coincide with the launch of these updates and push support for older devices strictly on manufacturers.

There isn’t a release date for Android 4.2 for existing Android users, but the new devices will be available to order in the US on November 13, 2012.

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