• Samsung Galaxy S3 Jelly Bean Update

    Samsung have finally made the update available to UK handsets of their Jelly Bean Android implementation. Jelly Bean itself has been around for a while now, but Samsung as well as many other handset manufacturers add their own flavour to the operating system.

    Samsung announced that a Jelly Bean update for the S3 would be made available from September 2012, and the roll-out seemingly started in Poland on September 24th.

    Since then, a number of countries have been introduced to the new OS, with the update arriving in the UK on Friday 26th October 2012. The update was staggered across the different networks through Kies, and also made available over the air (OTA). My update came OTA on Monday.

    The number of changes visible has not been all-too-great – they may more accurately be called refinements. There are certain changes in the UI – the notifications panel now previews the contents of text messages and emails when they arrive. The cursor is now blue and the letters on the keyboard are quite a lot smaller. Switching between apps is more animated than previously – these are the kind of smaller changes that I have noticed. So far, there are two larger changes that I have seen:

    • When adding icons to the home screen, it is possible to place them in folders on the home screens. This means that similar apps (or less-used apps) can be grouped together in a single space.
    • Google Now – this is a feature which you will have to enable – you will be asked if you want to when you first enter Google Search (e.g. by long-pressing the context button). This feature introduces a new system of trying to predict searches before you actually make them. It is supposed to get better over time. The only good thing it does for me right now is to present weather information.
    • All of the accounts on the device are now listed at the top-level of the settings menu. As these types of device are very connected, this is a step which makes a lot of sense. If, however, one has many accounts set up (as I do), it can result in a lot of extra items in the list. Such accounts include:
      • Google
      • Samsung
      • Dropbox
      • Ubuntu One
      • Facebook
      • Twitter
      • … and a whole raft of others.

    There have been some other updates, some of which have really been more annoying than helpful. A minor annoyance is that for some reason, the vibration alert was removed for text message arrivals, despite being set in the general notification settings section. This issue is trivial to rectify, however more annoying is that when typing, if punctuation is inserted using the buttons at the top of the keyboard, a space character is now automatically inserted. This is particularly annoying as users will be used to this not being the case. It is also somewhat counter-intuitive as it does not happen on other day-to0-day devices (such as keyboards on computers). Further, applications which implement email address entry (for example) as standard input boxes will likely not respond well with this automated space insertion.

    Other than the visible changes, Jelly Bean is supposed to be more efficient, more stable and faster. All of these things are good, and whilst they may not be the most visible of changes, they will certainly make using the phone long-term a much more pleasant experience.

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