With the Nexus 4, Nexus 10, and Nexus 7 3G all having been announced this morning in a rather unexpected way, we're having a hard enough time wading through all the stuff currently flooding our inboxes. And in this storm of hardware, the new version of Android - 4.2 - has gotten a little lost. Google announced the latest iteration of its mobile OS today, as well, and it includes some pretty awesome new features - particularly Photo Sphere.

Photo Sphere

A 360 degree camera mode, Photo Sphere allows you to take Street View-like images that can be navigated in Google+. You can also upload these images to Google Maps (see more here, and see actual contributions here) to share with the whole world, which is pretty neat. See it in action in the video below:

The system works by creating a ginormous JPEG file, in which XML metadata is stored that allows the 360 degree image to then be put together in a viewer like Google+. The Street View reference is no accident, as director of Android product management Hugo Barra explained on Google+:

We were inspired by Street View in Google Maps, and the sophisticated pieces of equipment that Google custom-developed in order to bring you 360-degree photos from all over the world – cars, trikes, and even backpacks.

Photo Spheres make you feel like you’re really there. When you're snapping a photo sphere, you can move in every direction, you can look up, you can look down, every detail from the original scene is just there.

Photo Spheres are stored as JPEG files, and all of the information required to view them is embedded as open XML metadata in the image itself. So you can email them, post them to Google+, put them in Google+ photo albums. Check it out and also check out all of our Nexus news.

Gesture Typing

Have you ever wanted Swype, but not Swype? Google's got you covered in Android 4.2, with the introduction of Gesture Typing. It does exactly what you would think it would do: type by dragging through the letters of the word you want. It doesn't sound like much on paper, but given Swype's many loyal followers, Google was wise to implement this new input option.


Multi-User Support (Tablets Only)

This is huge. Multiple user support, on Android. A first for a major mobile OS. Now, this is limited to tablets for the time being, but we wouldn't be surprised if the dev community grabs onto this feature and starts implementing it on phones through custom ROMs. Manufacturers, too - Samsung has to be drooling about adding this to TouchWiz's monumental feature arsenal.

multi-user (1)

So, what does multi-user mode actually... do? Each user gets their own homescreens, backgrounds, widgets, apps, and games - even the data associated with those apps. Which is basically what Ron already knew was going to happen.

This really is huge, though. Google absolutely beat Apple, Microsoft, and pretty much everybody to the punch here. Sharing a tablet between family members is now a real, feasible use-case. Let's hope they know how to market it, because I really believe people will love this.

Miracast Wireless Display Support

Using a dongle (or a Miracast-ready display of any kind), you can transmit whatever's on your Android device's screen to your TV / monitor. Not too much more to say about that.



File this into the "relatively useless crap" category (sorry, Android team - it is), "Daydream" mode causes your phone or tablet to display photos from your gallery, or feeds from apps like Google Currents while it's docked or idle. When the screen is on. Right. Anyway, that's what is does, and here's a picture of it doing just that.


Notification Power Controls

The new version of Android also has power controls in the the notification bar... but Google didn't really think that was important enough to say anything about it. You can access these controls (which allow you to toggle stuff like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Brightness, etc.) via a button in the notification bar, or a two-finger swipe down.

Lockscreen Widgets / New Clock App

We're hearing that Android 4.2 has lockscreen widgets, as well, but right now details are pretty scant. There are no pictures on this one, at the moment, but we'll update this post with new information as we learn it.

Oh, and the clock app now has a built-in world clock, stop watch, and timer. Take a look (photo via The Verge):


Google Now

Google Now has seen improvements, as well - you can now see flight information, restaurant reservations, hotel confirmations, and shipping details (presumably this is scraped from Gmail). Location-aware movie times, nearby attractions, and events have also been added. And yes, the "Swype-like" keyboard (dubbed "Gesture Typing") is part of Android 4.2, too. Rounding out the new 4.2 features is Miracast wireless display support. You can also launch apps via voice, as well as schedule meetings (wooooo!). Check out our post for the full details.


And, to learn more about all this stuff, check out the official Android website, where many of the features are listed.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Matthew King

    I saw a screenshot of a world clock, stopwatch and timer integrated into the clock app on the Verge site but the Android page makes no mention of this addition. Anyone got any info on this?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Yeah, I'm trying to figure that out now. Google's doing kind of a lame job, here, frankly - the information is scattered all over the place.

      • Matthew King

        I know! There also seems to be enhanced lock screen functionality where you can view widgets by swiping to the side... I'm sure I can trust androidpolice to give us the full changelog and some teardowns at some point though!

      • btod

        Might have something to do with them scrambling after having to cancel their own event. cut them some slack...

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          Cut them slack for not having a plan B or a competent press release or other "nexus" of Nexus information available? I don't think so. They could have easily done this better.

          • Matthew King

            Maybe they were embarrassed about not having such basic clock functionality from day 1 :P

          • jordanjay29

            Yes, I'm sure their first priority was to ensure that all the people waiting in their safe, cozy homes, schools and offices had a plethora of information while the journalists, presenters and staff they sent to New York weathered out a hurricane.

    • Bleakvision

      I don't get what you mean. I already have clock, stopwatch and timer integrated in the clock in my JB ROM. Was that actually added by the CyanogenMod Team?

      • Matthew King

        Yes, exclusive to CM i believe

  • dude

    You forgot to mention Lockscreen Widgets!!!

  • http://kennydude.me/ Joe Simpson

    I belive the Daydream feature (which has been outed for a while on the Dev site) has the ability for 3rd parties to develop their own, so I can see some useful stuff soon maybe?

  • Matthew King

    Looks great for a .1 update!

  • Kenshin

    "share with the whole 'word'..."

  • Karel

    Can't wait for the source code to be pushed to AOSP :D

  • http://twitter.com/BlaqkRoxstar ناثانيل غراهام

    I'm on Verizon... :'(

    • anaveragedude

      Don't worry we should see the update in about 10 months.

      • Eli Fulton

        install AOKP...

      • http://twitter.com/BlaqkRoxstar ناثانيل غراهام

        Do you think we'll be seeing a CDMA/LTE version of the Nexus 4?

  • Hiren

    When will it available in Nexus 7?

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    So I just ordered a Nexus 7 32GB to replace my 8GB (first time in history I've done something like that). Now the question is: when does 4.2 hit the device, considering it's shipping now? I want to root right away, as usual, and I normally go CM10, but I might be willing to wait now...

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7712379 Aaron Godfrey

      Want to sell that 8GB? haha

  • JT

    When does it go live for the Nexus 7?

  • mgamerz


    • Sven

      Same here .______."

      • Leonard Krum

        Padfone here..... XD 571€

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1248775127 Felipe Blanche

        glad I'm not the only one hahahaha I bought it like a month ago, I hadn't idea about a new nexus... But I'm happy with my gnex, it has all what I would want and it's better than a lot of new phones. I just hope they keeps updating it

    • refund

      You can send it back.

      • mgamerz

        I'll live with it.

        • QwietStorm

          Lol wow you really don't care

          • mgamerz

            Its a phone.

          • QwietStorm

            It is? I'm on the wrong site..

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1519620310 Zac Rodriguez

            Ya but why not put in a little effort for a better phone for the same price that will have a better resell value next year then the Galaxy Nexus. Its a much better /smarter purchase

          • mgamerz

            Cause I don't sell my phones...? It's seriously not that big of a deal. I did not anticipate them to hit the price point, it took them months to get the GSM one that cheap.

          • jordanjay29

            Maybe he's just trolling us all and laughing the whole way.

    • TheWhiteLotus

      Why would you buy a Galaxy Nexus a day before they release the Nexus 4?

      • Goldenpins

        Probably because it will be more expensive and not the same price as an older phone.

        • sky

          But it's not, and the GNexus would only go down in price because of a new phone.

    • NickAVV

      You post on a site like AndroidPolice, you had to know a Nexus 4 was imminent. You should've waited to at least see what the prices were like. Regardless, the Galaxy Nexus is a fine piece, and I'm sure you'll be happy with it.

      • mgamerz

        I needed a new phone about a month ago.

        • sky

          I would have cheaped out on something temporary. We've known about this announcement for awhile.

        • Rui Araújo

          Try to sell it.

          • mgamerz

            Would prefer the new one but I'm fine with my gnex.

    • Goldenpins

      Return it if you can! I just checked the playstore its no longer for sale.. im guessing the Nexus 4 will also be on sale there.

    • Crapple_Stink_Different

      Should have gotten a note 2 like me ;-)

      • mgamerz

        I already have enough stuff to fit in my pants, don't need more large stuff competing for space.

        • Crapple_Stink_Different

          not sure what of pants you got but i can fit 3 in and it's fine

    • Martin

      Galaxy Nexus isnt a bad phone.

    • jordanjay29

      Sucks to be you, man. AP has been running articles about the Nexus leaks for a week+, and other tech news sites the same. In any case, this is around the time that the new Nexus phones come out, so why wouldn't this year be the same?

      You only have yourself to blame for that one.

  • Zaeem Shahzad

    Hmm... Pretty good! When exactly did this happen? I thought that the event was cancelled.

  • Chris

    We just got 4.1 and now we got 4.2? is Google high or something? People are just starting to get 4.0 and a few even have 4.1 and now they have another one?

    not that I care, as I'm happy with 4.0, but this is getting crazy....

    • jammer

      Nexus devices and anyone who uses custom ROMs built by dedicated teams will have this in very short order.

    • karel

      It is not google's problem that other hardware manufactures are slow....

      • QwietStorm

        They certainly don't seem to be too bothered with it either. Yes it's open source, but manufacturers being slow is a detriment to the ANDROID experience, which reflects back on Google. One might think it should be common sense for Google to nudge these guys, but all I see most of the time is people defending them just because.

        • Chris

          its not being slow. its Google coming up with an update five months after the past one.

          • QwietStorm

            You're replying to the wrong person. I said that in response to another comment. But there are manufacturers that are just now updating to ice cream sandwich. That's not slow? That's Google's fault?

          • observer

            Just look at the Android version history, it has always been like that, sometimes even faster than 5 months: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_version_history
            Nothing sinister about that, we have always had two or three revisions per year.

            Other manufacturers could release fast updates if they wanted to but they chose to take their time, dissect Android and change very icon/background picture/animation/sound file/whatever.

      • Nevi_me

        Plus custom ROM developers are really doing a great job. The nice thing for me about Android is that even if I flash a custom ROM and don't like it, I can go back to exactly how my phone was using a nandroid backup.
        Good luck to my carrier trying to figure out if I breached warranty :)

      • Chris

        So its not Googles problem that they came out with an update almost five months after the last?

    • Matthew King

      So you're happy to get left behind and for Google not to innovate? They've been working hard recently with the nexus devices to reduce fragmentation and to set a benchmark Android experience for others to be modelled on, and have come up with some great features that set them aside from iOS and WP8. Be grateful that some people are innovating here! Now its up to the manufacturers to get their updates sorted - hopefully there will be more nexus devices from a range of manufacturers in the future.

      • Chris

        yes. Sure 'project butter" is cool and google now is a siri like competor, but I'm happy with what I have. I'm not some nerd who doesnt shower and eats nothing but dorritios and mt dew and spends all day flashing roms. I have a life.

        • Matthew King

          fair enough, but you don't have to be a nerd to benefit from the additional features

        • Rui Araújo

          If you had a Nexus, you would get these updates with no stress.

    • http://twitter.com/LeeNephi Lee Smithson

      But if you really, really think about it.. this is getting awesome.

  • mgamerz

    Daydream will be nice, it's like what the HP Touchpad had. I always missed that in android. The facebook one was pretty cool when sitting on a dock.

  • Quryous

    When will this be available on the Note 2?

  • GraveUypo

    finally got me some 4.1 jellybean goodness this morning and it's already outdated. fun

    • Nevi_me

      Well not really, as it's incremental it hopefully won't take long for your manufacturer to push it (few months maybe lol). About half of what's on the Android page has been there since 4.1,

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7712379 Aaron Godfrey

    So, I just got Jelly Bean on my GS3, and the aforementioned version of Google Now is on it, and has been, since the update on Saturday. Just saying, it's not 4.2 dependent.

  • http://twitter.com/dynomike666 Mike

    Absolutely love multi-user support and native Swype-like functionality. Photo-sphere looks neat. Really hoping for a CDMA/LTE SKU of the Nexus 4 in the months to come...

  • lbrfabio

    omg, photosphere it's great

  • jamaall

    I'm hoping the Razr M/HD/HD MAXX will get 4.2 and not 4.1....

    • Freak4Dell

      4.1 builds are already out there, and were demoed on the phones during the launch event. I don't think they're just going to scrap those. I hope they do a quick update to 4.2, though.

      • jamaall

        I'm hoping that since they're both jelly bean, all they would have to do is further update their current 4.1 build to 4.2

  • LazarusDark

    Actually, you could definitely say more about Miracast, as I know nothing about it, and wireless display is one of my most wanted features. Have you covered it before? If so, please provide the link. Otherwise, how does it work? Is it entirely software over wifi or does the device have a hardware component? How much do the dongles run and how do they connect?

  • niv



    shit, google mentioned 40 percent of android 4.2 in their site.
    it has a widget lockscreen, hdr camera, super improved clock app with stopwatch and timer. and what about the new gmail app?

  • Abhigyan Banerjee

    I'm not yet sold on the Photo Spheres. Although awesome in concept, they still have a long way to go. The demo panoramas at the Android website show a hell of a lot of pixellation as part of the stitching process.

  • Jason Rittenhouse

    As awesome as multi-users is, how did they beat everyone to the punch on it? Didn't the Surface tablet come out three days ago? It runs full Win 8 which should support multi-users - with their own apps, settings, data, etc. Unless Win 8 RT is more different from desktop Win 8 than I thought...

  • Jason Rittenhouse

    Also, does Google Now work with G Voice, yet? With Jelly Bean on my NS4G, you can't send a text via G Now if G Voice is your primary texting app/service...very annoying. Although, I haven't tried it in a while so possibly there's been an update that I wasn't aware of.

  • rocket_crotch

    anyone know if the wireless display capability will be available on the galaxy nexus once it gets the 4.2 update? not sure how that works with hardware/software

  • Bill Ramseyer

    looks pretty damn amazing I'll be getting my hands on Nexus 4 and Nexus 10

  • http://twitter.com/navjotbatra Navjot

    This video shows off the new lock screen widgets


  • xx00xx

    Photo Sphere= ginormous JPEG file so more space taken
    Multi-User Support= everyone crap filling the space
    miracast=need some crap to show some crap in tv

    So all this require more space in you mobile and google doesnot include sd?
    why do you make so many great feature and limit us with space.

    what if fish didnot have fins??

    • GraveUypo

      yeah, the no-sd policy on nexus devices is a major turn-off for me.

      • xx00xx

        and the fact is: they make some of the best android devices and they do not offer another model(just one nexus per release that doesnot have sd.)
        please dont be an apple.

  • jcopernicus

    The daydream isn't a crap feature. It's actually right in line with multi user support. Since it'll be a coffee table device now it'll engage people to pick it up. I don't expect it to be on all the time.

  • JordanMcRae

    Anyone find it odd that there has been NO mention of Google Wallet today in all of this?

  • http://twitter.com/FQdeB Felix de Boer

    Kind of weird to go drooling over the first multi user support and Samsung adding this to Touchwiz, whilst it's implemented in Sony's skin on the Xperia Tablet S, which was released a few months ago.

  • Freak4Dell

    Wow...a lot of cool features. Even Daydream is kind of cool. It may not be something that's used all the time, but it's nice to have.

  • faroscin

    They'd better add functionalities like iso setting and metering to the camera app, instead of this useless crap.

    • Jon Garrett

      dude, what phone do you have? cause my Note and my Wife's S III have iso and metering settings among many other useful things.

      • faroscin

        Eh eh, I live in ancient history, I'm still on a sgs1, but it has those settings.
        It's the android stock camera that doesn't. It's the reason I don't switch to CM10: the camera app is pretty basic stuff.

    • http://blog.ravrahn.net/ Owen Cassidy

      Hardly useless, if you can submit it to StreetView.

      • faroscin

        Ok, useful to google, not to me.

  • Pyngwie

    "Oh, and the clock app now has a built-in world clock, stop watch, and timer."

    Ohhh yeah!!

  • LiamBryant

    Yeah, it's a good thing the modding community exists otherwise we Android users on networks other than T-Mobile would never see any of this.

  • Jesper_SB

    Amazing how fast Android is developing. But I wish the Android team would take just a few hours out to streamline the includede widgets so they get a more uniform look and feel. Calender looks way different that ex. mail or gmail. Contacts has a 4th look and a fifth if you access it from the dailer. Guess they're bussy inventing new exiting stuff..

  • Jon Garrett

    Photo-Sphere kicks ass, I cant wait to see apple complain, criticize, copy and try to sue.

  • Mike

    i really like the notification power controls, and its about damn time Google updated the clock app with these features. ive been waiting for a new clock app for years now.

  • Usama Ahmad

    I disagree, I think Daydream is cool.

    Also, Google's Android did not beat Microsoft's tablet software (Windows) to multiple users, as Windows has had support for that for many years.

  • Ben Baggley

    Don't write off Daydream completely, it could actually be quite nice with the tablet on a dock and set to keep the screen on while charging.

  • http://blog.ravrahn.net/ Owen Cassidy

    That new clock app excites me way too much! I was planning to create a Holo world clock app myself. Lacking one was frustrating me greatly.

  • http://about.me/BenRogersWPG Ben Rogers

    These features are very impressive! Multi-user accounts! Incredible!

    • http://twitter.com/antronicsltd Antronics Ltd

      "Incredible" - really?!?
      Isn't this just an absolutely basic, fundamental requirement of any *real* platform??!!

  • JG

    So why is it called Day Dream & not what it's been called since I had it on my computer since the mid 90s... Its a bloody screen saver! Except instead of flying toasters, its pictures from my photo album....

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    Just giving credit where credit is due...Microsoft beat Google to the multi-user feature on a mobile OS. The Surface tablet running Windows 8 RT released on the 26th and it does support multi-user. It's only a difference of 3 days, but it counts. Plus, Microsoft demonstrated that functionality at their Build '11 conference last year, so they also publicly laid claim to the feature first.

  • Jörgen Pettersson

    Will the Miracast functionality work on my GNex and N7? I mean, is it software related or is some hardware missing from my current phone and tablet?

  • Simon Belmont

    Some of the Google Now stuff is just brought on by searching the relevant criteria. For example, shipping of packages by searching the package tracking number in Google will add it to the Google Now context. Same with flights. Search the flight and it's added to Google Now.

    Pretty neat stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if Google Now can use a permission to read your (non)Gmail too, if you let it.

  • Abaza Andrei

    Try this! My phone looks amazing with it installed ;) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoQ3YNjDIYo