Android 4.2 Jelly Bean announced: Camera spheres, keyboard updated, Miracast support
Google has announced the next step for the Android mobile OS which, as we'd previously confirmed, will be known as Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
Sticking with the Jelly Bean name, the update builds on the 4.1 Jelly Bean version that was announced in August with the launch of the Nexus 7.
With each iteration of Android, Google does something to the camera, often lost when the manufacturers like Samsung or HTC put a skin over the top. This time, however, we have Photo Sphere. The idea is to let you create 360-degree panoramic pictures, by moving the camera around you. These can then be shared or added to Google Maps for everyone to see.
The next feature is the keyboard. With 4.1 Android added prediction to its keyboard, aping the sort of thing you get from SwiftKey. In 4.2, however, Android gets trace input.
This is pretty common already: not only can you get it from Swype, which has been previously pre-installed on a number of Samsung devices, but HTC also has a trace input option. Now there's a Google version, so it looks like you'll be spending less time tapping, and more time swiping in the future.
One of the big changes is multiple account support, so you can have multiple users on a device and switch from the lock screen. That means each member of the family can have a personalised experience and dads will no longer have to hide all those Hello Kitty apps.
Increasing support for wireless sharing, Android 4.2 will let you fire your screen contents on to the big screen, with support for Miracast compatible displays. Miracast is based on Wi-Fi Direct and it's great to see this at a core level in Android.
It probably won't change the world, however, as the likes of Samsung, Sony, LG and HTC have all been providing some sort of display sharing solution for a couple of years.
Google Now is also getting an update, rolling out with more of that predictable life stuff. More cards are coming to Google Now - which we've always found to be a bit hit and miss - with flight information, tablet reservations, room bookings and shipping details in the spotlight.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean will be available from 13 November on the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 at launch. As always, we have no idea when the update will roll out to other devices, but we'll bring you any details we discover.