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Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Ars technica takes a look at Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). "For developers, the Jelly Bean SDK will include a new profiling tool, systrace, that provides a clear visualization of their applications' use of the CPU, GPU, and other system components, so that bottlenecks can be more readily identified and resolved." More information can be found in the Jelly Bean platform highlights.
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Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jun 28, 2012 6:19 UTC (Thu) by MKesper (guest, #38539) [Link]

Now we just wait for hardware featuring this release...

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jun 28, 2012 8:08 UTC (Thu) by Tomasu (subscriber, #39889) [Link]

Mine will arrive in a few weeks :) (Google Nexus 7)

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jun 28, 2012 10:03 UTC (Thu) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

Looks like the current crop of top-line phones (HTC One X, Galaxy S III) should be able to support it just fine.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jun 28, 2012 15:05 UTC (Thu) by cabrilo (guest, #72372) [Link]

Sepaking of which: I am looking into finally replacing a Symbian phone with something smarter. I buy phones without a contract, so I generally keep them for a long time as I have no incentive to upgrade. One of the concerns that I have is that after a couple of years my new phone manufacturer will stop updating OS for the phone. Who has a good track record of supporting and updating to newest Android versions for longest? Who has a bad track record?

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jun 28, 2012 15:17 UTC (Thu) by bpeebles (subscriber, #70111) [Link]

Have you looked at the Galaxy Nexus directly from Google? The price just dropped to $350, down from $400. https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=galaxy_n... And here are some thoughts from LWN: http://lwn.net/Articles/497125/

GSM/HSPA+ only, but it's unlocked etc. Works great on American T-Mobile. It is already a 7 month old phone, so it's unclear exactly how long it'll get updates for (Nexus One isn't getting official 4.0.) My guess is that the Galaxy will get updates for longer, but who knows.

Get updates longer!

Posted Jun 29, 2012 11:04 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

The only way to be sure that your phone is going to be updated is to buy an unlocked phone and update it yourself. If it is popular enough then independent distros (CyanogenMod or even Replicant) will probably support it for a long time.

I have a Nexus S, and Google is still updating it. Hope to get official 4.1 soon! Otherwise, it's time for CyanogenMod.

Get updates longer!

Posted Jun 30, 2012 8:17 UTC (Sat) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

the problem is figuring out ahead of time if it's going to be popular enough.

I purchased an unlocked tablet, and have effectively been orphaned because of lack of vendor support and documentation (video and camera)

This is in spite of there being a bounty of >$1000 for someone producing a working android 4.1 build for the device.

Get updates longer!

Posted Jun 30, 2012 8:24 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

That is certainly one of the characteristics (and sore points) of the Android ecosystem: only the popular devices survive, and the others get orphaned quick. Those that get updated by vendors in turn become more popular, and so on. In the end there are only a few viable devices.

From my limited and anecdotal research, that is one of the reasons why HTC phones have largely stopped being popular: they are locked and are not updated by the manufacturer. And in a very short space of time! In a sense, market forces favor unlocked, updated devices, which is good; but the market is notoriously difficult to read in advance.

Get updates longer!

Posted Jul 3, 2012 8:21 UTC (Tue) by rich0 (guest, #55509) [Link]

Agreed. I bought an HTC Vision in part because Cyanogen mentioned that he had bought one and liked it, and I figured that this would make support a bit more likely.

However, there is still no official CM v9 build for this device. Andromadus is the closest to the CM experience as there is, but is moving along slowly. I think one of the issues is that the modding community has essentially become fragmented by the large number of phones - when there were only a few phones the effort to keep them supported as long as possible was MUCH more concentrated.

A further complication is that the more prolific developers tend to get new phones very often funded by donations. That tends to mean that much of the development effort gets focused on the latest and greatest phones.

Obviously the free software developers don't owe anybody anything - the community benefits from whatever work they donate to the cause. However, these sorts of factors make it unlikely that any new phone is going to have the support that the HTC Dream originally enjoyed (I hear you can get ICS for it), despite the huge hardware limitations on the Dream (a bit of a hacker's target as a result - plus just about all the devs have one lying around).

The Nexus phones by far have the best official support, however you'll only get ~18 months of releases if you buy one the day they come out. Since Google sells them until a new one comes out and they seem to come out about annually, if you happen to buy one the day before the next one is announced you will be lucky to get updates for a year. The downside to the Nexus phones is that they tend to be unsubsidized - though that can vary by carrier.

Get updates longer!

Posted Jul 3, 2012 9:23 UTC (Tue) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

the problem is made significantly worse because the developers tend I have seen tend to not be willing to do anything to push their work upstream (not even just being willing to interact with Greg K-H via e-mail)

This means that any work done to get a device working with one version of Android is completely lost when the next version is released (by which time there are new devices out for the more prolific developers to work on)

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jun 28, 2012 15:08 UTC (Thu) by bpeebles (subscriber, #70111) [Link]

From the end of the article: "Android 4.1 will be made available to the Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Xoom, and Nexus S over-the-air from mid-July."

So by mid-July, there will be at least 4 devices that it officially runs on. Which isn't ideal, of course. I assume the Galaxy S II and S III will get 4.1 whenever Samsung ports TouchWiz to 4.1, modulo providers.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jun 28, 2012 18:09 UTC (Thu) by b7j0c (guest, #27559) [Link]

i'm still waiting for at&t to upgrade the galaxy s2 to ICS. i'm starting to think it will never happen

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jun 29, 2012 4:48 UTC (Fri) by mastro (guest, #72665) [Link]

Never EVER buy a phone from a carrier. They have a financial incentive to *not* update your devices and instead force you to buy a new one (and a new contract!) after two years or what not.

I apologize if the following sounds like FUD (and I admit I don't have proof) but I would also suggest to avoid buying a Galaxy Nexus from sources other than Google, since I've heard rumors that there are small hardware variations and some get their updates sooner than others.

Buying it directly from Google offers some hope for timely updates:
https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=galaxy_n...

You can also find the (small) tablet, Nexus 7, at: https://www.google.com/nexus

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jun 29, 2012 11:08 UTC (Fri) by cesarb (subscriber, #6266) [Link]

> I've heard rumors that there are small hardware variations and some get their updates sooner than others.

Other than the GSM (maguro) versus CDMA (toro), I did not hear anything about hardware variations, only software. The Google software variant for GSM (yakju) is the one which updates quickest; the others (yakju followed by two letters) update slower, and some of them did not update from 4.0.2 to 4.0.4 yet (for instance, the yakjuvs which is the variant sold here in Brazil).

But as long as you have the GSM hardware (maguro), you can unlock the bootloader (a simple command from Linux, erases all data on the device for privacy reasons) and flash the standard "yakju" variant. It is not officially supported, but I have seen forum posts from several people who did it with zero problems.

> Buying it directly from Google offers some hope for timely updates

Buying a Galaxy Nexus directly from Google only shows an "unavailable on your country" page, it is much easier to buy from a local carrier. The Galaxy Nexus has no carrier customizations, AFAIK all local carriers are using the same yakjuvs build.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jul 2, 2012 16:51 UTC (Mon) by mathstuf (subscriber, #69389) [Link]

> The Galaxy Nexus has no carrier customizations, AFAIK all local carriers are using the same yakjuvs build.

Mine came with MyVerizon (which I would have installed anyways, but the latest update removing the widget and something about the login requiring a second app that doesn't work on ICS makes me wary of whether it will continue being useful at all; still haven't upgraded) and Wallet can't be updated from the store (I got the APK from the XDA forums though).

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jul 1, 2012 5:28 UTC (Sun) by aryonoco (guest, #55563) [Link]

You can buy any GSM Galaxy Nexus from anywhere and there are no hardware variations between them. Software, yes. The ones straight from Google have a codename called 'yakju' and they get their updates straight from Google. Others will get the update from Samsung/carrier and so that's slower. But any GSM Galaxy Nexus can be flashed to a 'yakju' build and then it is exactly the same as one bought straight from Google. I have done this on a Telstra Galaxy Nexus I bought here in Australia, and it works flawlessly.

To the OP: In Android-land, if you want to get the maximum lifespan out of your device and know that your device is going to get official updates for a long time to come, only buy from Google's Nexus line.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jul 3, 2012 8:28 UTC (Tue) by rich0 (guest, #55509) [Link]

Perhaps, but timing is an issue. I'm considering getting a phone but I'd never buy a Galaxy Nexus now. That phone is almost 9 months old already - halfway though its likely supported lifetime (I've yet to see Google release a Nexus update more than 18 months from original release - and they sell their phones for a fairly long time - you could have bought an ADP and never gotten an update).

The other big issue with the Nexus line is lack of subsidy (varies by carrier). $400 is a lot to pay for a phone if you don't get a break on your monthly rate. The only carrier I'm aware of that will give you a break on the rate is T-Mobile, and for 4 lines you're looking at a savings of $900 every 18 months which is hardly the value of four free phones (two smart and two dumb).

The math probably works better for individual plans.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jul 3, 2012 23:20 UTC (Tue) by jimparis (subscriber, #38647) [Link]

> Perhaps, but timing is an issue. I'm considering getting a phone but I'd never buy a Galaxy Nexus now. That phone is almost 9 months old already - halfway though its likely supported lifetime

It's also half the original price by now, so that still seems like a reasonable purchase.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: faster, smoother, more delightful (ars technica)

Posted Jun 28, 2012 18:08 UTC (Thu) by b7j0c (guest, #27559) [Link]

i am using a nexus s and nexus 7 both using jellybean now. jellybean seems to be a great upgrade. the nexus 7 merits its positive reviews. for $200 i don't think you can get a better tablet. not an ipad killer, but definitely a kindle fire killer

DRM for Apps downloaded via Google Play

Posted Jun 28, 2012 11:57 UTC (Thu) by csamuel (✭ supporter ✭, #2624) [Link]

Android 4.1 includes a form of DRM for applications downloaded from Google Play, as the developers document says:
Starting with Android 4.1, Google Play will help protect application assets by encrypting all paid apps with a device-specific key before they are delivered and stored on a device.
This will presumably make it a lot harder to identify if someone has copied your code into their application.

DRM for Apps downloaded via Google Play

Posted Jun 29, 2012 23:56 UTC (Fri) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285) [Link]

But not impossible.

Here's one method to get at the code: load a modified ROM with a customized Dalvik which copies the decrypted bytecode somewhere.

Assuming that the hardware allows loading modified ROMs of course.

If it doesn't, then you're into mod-chip territory and you'd need something to perhaps freeze the CPU clock and dump the RAM.

Which yes, would qualify as "a lot harder."

DRM for Apps downloaded via Google Play

Posted Jul 3, 2012 8:34 UTC (Tue) by rich0 (guest, #55509) [Link]

Doubt you'd even have to do that much, unless they build the decryption into the CPUs or something.

DRM of any kind suffers from the Bob = Eve problem - it is cryptographically unsound. I'm sure once the source is available there will be software readily available to extract the device key and then you can just decrypt the apks either on the device or elsewhere.

To really get DRM to work on Android would require locking it WAY down - so much that I doubt that many LWN readers would be interested in it any longer. This seems to be more of a token gesture. I'm sure it will be unbreakable for a week or two...


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