24
Jul
nexusae0_image_thumb62

It's that time of year: a new version of Android is in the wild. Here's everything we could find that's new and notable in Android Jelly Bean 4.3. Most of it is for developers and gives the software a bit of spit and polish, and at least some of the new features require fancy new hardware. But if you want to get a quick overview of all the new stuff coming to a Nexus near you (and hopefully other devices) soon, this is it.

Autocomplete On The Dial Pad, Keyboard Enhancements

Remember the way your old dumbphone (or perhaps your skinned Android phone) would auto-complete the numbers from your contact pool? Now Android 4.3 can do that natively. Took long enough. Google has also tweaked the keyboard for better tap recognition, and remote gamepads like the MOGA should have even less latency.

smart-dialer-animated_v2

Restricted Profiles

The most user-facing new feature in 4.3 is the ability to create restricted profiles. This builds on the multi-user implementation in Android 4.2 tablets (and only tablets) by allowing the tablet owner to designate which apps, services, and settings are available to restricted users. This is perfect for guests, kids, or retail kiosks. The accounts are still separated in terms of apps and storage, but owners can specify which apps can use the owner's identity or settings and which will require something else, or simply be disabled. Individual apps can restrict access to certain functionality (like location tracking or in-app purchases) at the API level.

restricted-profiles

Location

The Geofencing and Wi-Fi scanning APIs in the new Google Play services (revealed at Google I/O) now have system-level support on certain hardware, the new Nexus 7 and Nexus 4 being the only Google devices that are currently compatible. For example, the gyroscope and magnetometer can now report raw and ostensibly more accurate data to games and apps, and the WiFi scanning mode can be enabled without connecting to a network for better location tracking without using GPS.

Security

4.3 gets a whole slew of new features for enterprise and other security-conscious users. Individual apps can now configure WiFi credentials on WPA2 networks, and exchange authentication with networks via the Extensible Authentication Protocol. The KeyChain API has a new method for application keys that can't be exported from a device, even in the event of a root compromise. There's a new keystore provider for creating security keys that can't be seen by other apps. Private keystore keys can't be exported. Finally, the /system partition is now mounted to prevent apps from executing setuid programs (closing some vulnerabilities) and Android now uses the SELinux mandatory access control system.

App-Specific Developer Options

Ho boy, have there been a lot of new toys added to developer's toolboxes. First of all, there are a ton of new notification options, chiefly the ability for individual apps to be aware of system-wide notifications. This requires the permission of the end user, but the listening API delivers a rich amount of information including the originating app, time, content, priority, and dismissal state. There are new options for transparent overlays, custom rotation animations, on-the-fly orientation locking, and access to the new Quick Response text feature.

Bluetooth

As mentioned in the Google livestream, Android 4.3 now supports new Bluetooth APIs including Bluetooth Low Energy (supported on the N7 2013 and Nexus 4) and Bluetooth Smart Ready devices, primarily designed for low-bandwidth applications. This is perfect for add-on devices like watches, remotes, et cetera, either as a client or a server. The AVRCP 1.3 profile (an expanded version of the old A2DP streaming/controlling function) is designed specifically for remote control clients, and will now allow for remote displaying of information like song titles and artists.

Graphics

Android 4.3 now supports OpenGL ES 3.0, the latest version of the OpenGL API for mobile hardware and other low-power systems. 3.0 supports new options for shaders, texture compression, and other complex graphics in 2D and 3D. The new Android 4.3 builds for the Nexus 7 2013, Nexus 4, and Nexus 10 (scheduled to update over the air very soon) already support OpenGL ES 3.0.

Virtual Surround Audio

This audio trick has been used for a quasi-surround effect from stereo headphones and speakers for years, and now it's available to Android devices with stereo speakers like the new Nexus 7. HTC, you can't update the One fast enough. It's not clear if this can be enabled with standard headphones.

DRM

Digital Rights Management is a bit of a dirty term, but it's a necessary evil if you want a wide array of content on your device. 4.3 includes an impressive assortment of new DRM implementations: MPEG DASH, VP8 encoding, surface encoding without a buffer, and combine video and audio file outputs via an MPEG-4 media muxer.

Also, extended software playback controls will now be able to access controls for speed and position. Translation: it should be possible to build music widgets and notification controls that let you scan through a song or track without opening the app. Nice. We've tried this with Google Play Music, but it doesn't seem to be implemented yet - be on the lookout for a new version in the Play Store soon.

International Users And Accessibility

Language support has been added for Africaans, Amharic, Hindi, Swahili, and Zulu. Android 4.3 includes better support for right-to-left text in Hebrew, Aramaic, and other languages, enabling it in more portions of the default Android user interface. The launcher, clock, Quick Settings toggles, dialer, People app, setup wizard, Downloads app, and more now support RTL displays. Developer tools for RTL testing have been added to the Android SDK. Pseudo-locales allow developers to simulate the language, script, and display for Accented English. Accessibility services can now filter for key events, allowing third-party apps to interact with core Android inputs and outputs in new ways.

jb-rtl-arabic-n4 jb-rtl-hebrew-n4

Logging And Analyzing

Developers now have access to an enhanced Systrace tool, which can bring in data from hardware modules, kernel functions, the Dalvik Virtual Machine, and resource loading. Trace APIs can mark sections of code for logging, saving some system resources. There's also a new visual indicator of GPU performance for debugging graphics-heavy apps. It's with a built-in indicator for drawing, issuing, and waiting on commands, with the green bar indicating a 60ms threshold for the frames per second goal. Check out the multi-threaded overlays below.

jb-gpu-profile-clk-n4 jb-gpu-profile-cal-n4

Other Small Tweaks

There's now a tab for disabled apps in the Settings menu, so you won't have to scroll all the way through the "All Apps" tab to see them. The initial Android Setup Wizard is a bit better, now that you can correct previous inputs and a bit of the EULA has been streamlined. User switching on tablets is faster, and the Photo Table daydream can now navigate through albums in addition to folders. Also, devs: there's a new ActionBarCompat function in Support Library 18 that makes it easy to mimic the Action Bar for phones running Android 2.1-3.0. 

wm_2013-07-24 22.28.04 wm_2013-07-24 22.30.55 wm_2013-07-24 22.31.04

This is a (relatively) brief overview of all the new features. Naturally we'll be doing a more exhaustive look later. If you're a developer or just more technically-inclined, Google has an incredibly deep run-down of all the new SDK and API features.

Sources: Developer.Android.com, Android.com, Android Developers YouTube

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • mlj11

    That is one awesome gif.

  • redsmith

    Is it just me or the keyboard animation is more streamlined than before?

  • Adil Qamar

    Good article.

  • http://www.twitter.com/thewizkid95 Jesus Otero
  • Doan

    Is there a video of the event somewhere? I can't find one.

  • VegasDude73

    Seriously annoyed that the Galaxy Nexus isn't getting BLE support. The chip supports it! I'm not alone. Issue 33371 on google code documents a litany of people.

    As well as confirmation from a google team member in may that the GNex wasn't getting support. https://plus.google.com/116110604589325140832/posts/VsF1BcaFY1g

    This just seems like a blatant attempt from Google to force people to upgrade their device. Are they themselves not supporting devices for 2 years? Why wouldn't you provide a software update for a device that has hardware to support it?

    I don't get it.

    • tyguy829

      are you sure it isn't getting it? "Android 4.3 now supports new Bluetooth APIs including Bluetooth Low Energy (supported on the N7 2013 and Nexus 4) and Bluetooth Smart Ready devices," Doesn't the gnex count as a Smart Ready device?

      • VegasDude73

        Well as of May, a guy on the google+ post from Sara Brody (Android Project Manager - bluetooth, wireless etc.) asked:

        "You said nexus 4 and future nexus devices. Does this mean the Samsung Galaxy Nexus wont receive BLE even though it has the hardware to support it?"

        Sara Sinclair Brody
        May 16, 2013

        +Kyle Newton that's correct.

      • VegasDude73

        In the video Fred also says that the new N7 and existing N4 are the first two nexus devices that are bluetooth smart ready making them capable of BLE. Which again isn't making sense since the GNex has the hardware to support BLE.

        Samsung added BLE to the S3 which has the same chip in it, via their own proprietary version of a bluetooth stack. Again, Google could do the same if they chose to do the same from where I understand it.

    • naysayer

      I don't think it is a money grab by Google. I think the reason is that they don't care that much about old Nexus hardware and are keen to reduce development costs. They'd have to code support for the GNex and they don't want to.

      • VegasDude73

        Code support for GNex? It's getting 4.3... Additionally, they are the ones that were putting together the 18 month program for manufacturers... the Gnex isn't even 2 years old...

      • VegasDude73

        Additionally, the Gnex was their flagship phone in 2012... The whole point of buying a nexus line is because it's a developer type phone. Not so anymore if they aren't going to at least keep it up to date for 18 months.

    • mattdonders

      Does anyone think its possible a developer can support it / activate it in a ROM since Android 4.3 is natively supporting it and the chip is there?

      • VegasDude73

        They'd have to port from the N4 or have a third party stack which isn't always that useful considering major manufacturers of BLE devices will probably only support official stacks.

    • victorvics

      so you are saying that they are trying to force that 400k Gnexus people to buy Nexus 4?? when most Gnexus users dont even know the difference between 4.2 and 4.3, especially BLE enhancements???? which is what like 200 users??

      • VegasDude73

        There is a significant difference between verizon GNex, Sprint Gnex, and Tmo Gnex users... I'm talking specifically about Google Play Gnex owners (takju). Those owners do know specifically why they bought a GNexus from the play store instead of from their phone provider.

        And you make a great point, when the user tries to user their fitbit, or amiigo, or pebble, or polar heart rate... They will not understand why their phone doesn't support it. I mean their phone might not even be a year old depending on when they bought it. They won't get why it doesn't work, but they will be frustrated because it doesn't work.

        Those of us who know that it could technically work on the device are frustrated at Google for using tactics similar to phone manufacturers. It's ok though, the developer community is strong and when they leave phones behind it gets picked up.

      • VegasDude73

        When their phone sucks at streaming audio and doesn't display the metadata for their song, they won't understand why it doesn't work. They'll just be frustrated...

        Again, this shouldn't be the case.

        • Simon Belmont

          It's possible that AVRCP 1.3 is still included in this update for the Galaxy Nexus. AVRCP 1.3 doesn't require Bluetooth 4.0 (I've seen it in as low as Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR).

          We saw the GSM Galaxy Nexus pass through the Bluetooth SIG a month ago (albeit still with Bluetooth 3.0), but it's likely it could get the AVRCP 1.3. I guess someone will have to test that.

          • VegasDude73

            I certainly hope so, at least to have that.

          • MrXIII

            It is in the GNexus 4.3 ROM, my mate updated his phone last night and he now gets track info on his parrot kit in his car where as he didnt before

          • VegasDude73

            Thanks!

    • Simon Belmont

      I thought I remember reading about the Galaxy Nexus going through the FCC with Android 4.3 a month or two ago. Wouldn't that indicate it may have been recertified with BLE support?

      Hmm. I doubt many people are going to feel forced to upgrade due to a
      lack of BLE, which still has a pretty niche usage demographic. Either way, if it's true, that's a shame. I would have used it (GSM G'Nex owner).

    • mikeym0p

      They probably didn't waste their time since only the international (unrooted) GNex users are going to see it.

    • Kansja

      Have you ever stopped to think the chip is not the only thing stopping it?

      BLE maybe needs a new amplifier and antenna sets that were not includded on the GNexs but were included in the N4 and the new N7, despite the chip being there

      • VegasDude73

        To be honest we don't really know why they haven't updated it and they aren't saying why. That honestly would solve a lot of things in my mind. Perhaps it's time to look at the ifixit teardowns and compare.

      • 16bitz0r

        And what N4 users say about limited LTE, even though "the chip" might support more frequencies? exactly the same point.

        • Sietai

          That's mainly because the FCC restriction, but just because it's possible still doesn't mean it's efficient.

          The N4 still doesn't have a proper amplifier for it, and that's not going to change regardless of what you do on the software end. fortunately it's fast and battery efficient enough for every day use, but not as good as it could have been had it had the proper hardware.

        • Kansja

          It's exactly the same. It lacks amplifiers for any LTE band but the Band 4 (Which probably was just a routing decision so it wasn't all that different than the OG, and thus cheaper to make)

      • Adrian Meredith

        exactly, its like how the gn support wifi direct but it doesn't actually work properly

    • Here’s a cry’in towel

      Devices get old, move on. The Gnex is a few months from being put out to pasture anyway. You bought it for the features promised at launch, not every new technology that comes along a year and a half later.

      • Michael

        Idiot.

      • VegasDude73

        If it was any other phone, not bought directly from the play store I would agree with you. The nexus line of phones is unlike any other type of phone line in the android ecosystem, and there's a reason for that.

        If you don't understand that, then I really don't want to spend my time explaining it to you, you seem more like a troll than anything else. Especially with your username.

    • mog386

      It may be because BLE requires a kernal v3.4 or above. Both the OG Nexus 7 and the GNex are still on 3.1.10.

  • Salem

    I noticed better support for Hebrew and Aramaic language. Will Arabic have better support as well?

    Thanks

    • Mo3tasm

      in the presentation it was Hebrew and Arabic... i'm not sure where Aramaic came from...

  • yahyoh

    O_o the arabic RTL seems weird it shouldn't look like that

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    I have a question, how would DRM affect my ability to record the HDMI out of my HTC One? i use it to record games atm such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM3X9xH002I

    • Adrian Zugaj

      It shouldn't.

  • arturodelac

    You forgot that 3rd party apps can now disable the clock on the status bar lockscreen

  • angel_spain

    There's a change in the new bootloader, at least for Nexus 4. Now it shows status messages like "receiving" and "writing" when you flash something using fastboot.

  • David Kertesz

    I was waiting for this all week :D

  • mgamerz

    Haha they're adding action bar support finally? Congrats on being like 2 years late google.
    If only you had done preference fragments too, the compatability library would have been useful.

  • cdlq

    Too bad that the Mali 400 does not support opengl 3.0, so the note 2 and the s3 will not have benefit from that

  • Vito Lee

    I'm definitely interested in the notification listener and the possibilities of that with Tasker. So many possible scenarios.

    • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

      That feature will hopefully help to streamline the Pebble notifications, and make it easier to catch notifications from LightFlow without having to manually add each app manually by the developper.

      • Elias

        Also, i predict malware stealing notifications.
        About time Google implements a way to revoke permissions for individual apps.

        • Mark Landry

          Its actually there but hidden!

    • DaLord

      I've ben wondering when google would release this immediately after i started using Tasker. Can't wait 'till Tasker's deve update it with this functionality.

  • David

    Low latency audio?

    • Adrian Meredith

      unfortunately it looks like that hasn't made it into 4.3. The latency in caustic is the same as in 4.2. It Is coming however! It obvious to me that they are working on android 5 and 4.3 is just a backport of some core improvements so they could release a new nexus 7 with a new version of android.

      Also they said that although they had solved the output latency they hadn't solved it for recording yet so may they are waiting for it to be completely resolved

  • Kyle Riedemann

    They said durring the stream that digital surround sound would work with any headphones.

    • JT Wieme

      looks like in the eq in google play music, '3D Effect' has been renamed 'Surround Sound'.

  • skyline159

    And I think it doesn't vibrate when you turn off the phone anymore

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

    Yes, the 'read notification' can lead to lots of great app functionality. But even bad apps now will also ask for 'read notification' permission and 90% users just "Accept" it without reading.

  • paxmos

    I see Arabic as a new langugae on the dial pad. What the heck is Aramaic?

    • Thursday

      The language that Jesus spoke

      • Adrian Meredith

        does the jesus phone support it?

  • Jure Š

    I just noticed that the cropping tool for a custom wallpaper selection is new... nice. :-)

  • Idan Yael

    The data usage screen now separates WiFi and mobile

    • anon

      nothing new, had to enabled from the setting menu in previous builds

  • Afrikaner

    The added language "africaans" should be with a "k". Afrikaans. Great article! Now if only google music would come to our country .

  • Daniele Lapi

    Has anyone in the UK had an OTA update to 4.3 yet

    • mattrition

      The OTA isn't ordered by country. I'm pretty sure its a completely random lottery.

    • http://www.asus.co.uk/studyinstyle Adam Smith

      I received it on my Nexus 7 a couple days ago. It's super smooth again :)

  • yusufg

    Does anybody else find the if one has a contact name with an associated phone number with a soft-pause in it, when a call is made to that contact, instead of the name being shown only the number before the soft-pause is shown

    eg
    Contact Name: Foobar
    Phone Number: 5551212,5678

    When the following contact is dialled from the Contacts app, then instead of the dialler showing 'Foobar', it shows that 5551212 is being dialled

  • plaisthos

    I worked with the KeyChain API a lot. I think your information is wrong. There is no added capability. The only new feature is that you can now ask if the device has a secure key hardware storage (like Nexus devices). Other devices implement the keystore in software.

  • jason

    Not sure if mentioned, but Keep is installed by default and Hangouts fully replaces Talk (ie no downgrading).

    • Lalit Mali

      Hangouts was obvious. And Keep installed by default maybe Nexus-only.

  • http://microsoftstorecode.blogspot.com/ Microsoft Store promo code

    Microsoft Store Promo code Video Fred additionally says that the new N7 and existing N4 are the first two nexus units that are bluetooth keen primed making them equipped for BLE. Which again isn't boding well since the Gnex has the equipment to underpin BLE.
    http://microsoftstorecode.blogspot.com

  • gargamel

    I'll skip this update, thank you. I guess it includes the new "improved" maps app, and the new Gmail app. No thank you.
    Regarding the Gnex discussion below- sorry, but Google is becoming as evil as Apple. No HDR for Gnex on 4.2, now no BLE. HDR is certainly implemented with software...
    So yeah, I feel like an owner of an iPhone 4 when APPL released iOS 6

    • Sietai

      "I didn't get one particular feature that I wanted, so I'll refuse the other features I'm being offered as well!"

      What's the problem with the new maps and gmail apps anyway? Sounds like you're just opposed to change.

    • CoreRooted

      HDR on the Gnex... It is not just a software limitation. it is also a hardware limitation. In order for HDR to work [properly], the shutter speed has to be able to snap the individual frames fast enough. The Gnex doesn't have a fast enough shutter speed. The implementation that has been available in most custom ROMs suffer from the same problem making the pics look horrible.

      As for BLE, it could very well come in a later update.

  • Dipish

    Still no international T9 dialing by contact name???

  • Bretton Key

    I can't wait for the developers/hackers/nerds to ROM this baby out... My phone is about to kick it into another gear...

  • Mystery Man

    Does 4.3 have IR blaster support?

  • Waleed Al Suwaimel

    RTL support in Android 4.3 mirrors everything! Notice how the Back and Multitasking buttons switched places in the photo above. Not only that, it mirrored all of my homescreens when I sat Arabic as system language!

  • Kamil Romański

    I don't know if that was mentioned before, but here is a new, much better UI for setting size for a wallpaper:-)

  • J Maharjan

    just got it on my galazy nexus. reatarting.

  • neckaros

    The wallpaper cropper is fixed now! good news :)

  • http://brandonbrown.io/ Brandon Brown

    One thing I noticed, and I'm not sure if this was in 4.2.2, is that at the lock screen the time in the top bar disappears to show more notifications and because the time shows on the lock screen itself, then when unlocked the time reappears in the top bar.

    Subtle and I like it.

  • scientist

    Wondering whether adhoc WiFi support was added. This was a major inconvenience to many users not to be able to connect to their PC's wired internet through WiFi.

  • Marcis Buhholcs

    Not sure if this feature was present before but 4.3 also has a very nice self-protection when free space nears 0. I was copying files to my 1st gen Nexus 7 and after copying there was only 185MB free left. 4.3 immediately displayed warning on status bar about lack of free space and it's impact on synchronization and general well-being of the OS. Tapping on that message leads directly to "Storage" section of the Settings allowing to perform cleanup of the phone. Notification does not go away until free space exceeds 200MB.
    Also WiFi status icon went gray. Synchronization was disabled.

  • dilharo

    appops pulled from kitkat

  • Zurkster

    I have a T-Mobile Samsung GS4 gti9505 and was recently updated using
    Kies, however after completing the flash my phone will no longer connect
    to my TV via HDMI adapter. I bought a second official adapter but still
    no luck. can anyone suggest a remedy for this, as it seems to be affecting an
    ever increasing number S4 Jellybean owners.

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