There was talk of Android 4.2 being released in November and of Google starting a Nexus certification program that would allow any manufacturer to produce a Nexus device provided they met some minimum requirements. Now, a source of Android and Me’s has provided them information on all the major features that Android 4.2 will come with, and some major changes Google is looking to make.
Let’s talk about all those features and changes one by one.
New Nexus Program
This has already been talked about and is mainly a certification program that will enable any manufacturer to make a new Nexus device or a Nexus version of an existing phone (a device’s name doesn’t need to have Nexus in its name), where the manufacturer will work closely with Google on the “hardware and driver details”, but the updates will come from Google directly.
The first basic requirement for these Nexus devices of course will be to ship with a stock version of Android, and according to the source, also have the necessary hardware required to run all “Nexus Games” and support for Google Wallet, meaning they must have NFC. These “Nexus Games” will apparently be games that work only on Nexus devices, something probably influenced by Nvidia’s “Tegra only” games. There will also be special streaming content for Nexus devices, protected from piracy by a new secure memory method.
New Customization Center
According to the source, Google has added something called the Customization Center, which will allow users to change ringtones, add language packs and change between them, backgrounds, launchers, etc, with more content addable from Google Play, allowing the average customers to make customizations they might not ever do otherwise. But the most important features of the Customization Center will be templates, which would allow changing the appearance of all dynamic icons at once, and post filters, which can change the appearance of the whole UI.
Manufacturers will be able to provide their custom UI’s (probably like TouchWiz or Sense), which will need to be compatible with a newer version of Android, failing which the device will revert to the stock UI till a manufacturer can come up with a compatible version of their UI. This could be a deterrent for manufacturers, as they will be unable to meld their custom interface and features with stock Android too well, but will be a great move for users who will have the choice of living with stock Android.
New Project Roadrunner
Ah, this is perhaps one of the best new “project” that Google is reportedly working on. Just like “Project Butter” enhanced the smoothness and responsiveness of Android, Project Roadrunner will be aimed at improving the battery life of Android, taking care of one of Android’s biggest problems.
Updated Google Play
Google Play will be getting some new features as well, such as personalized search, optional promotional campaigns with notification center integration (say hello to lots of ads in the notifications menu?), more billing options (great, we need this for sure), and easier in-app micro-transactions. This will be a great help to app developers, as more billing options means that people who are forced to pirate because they don’t have a way to pay may finally be able to buy content.
Updated Google Now
Google Now will help users with basic OS functions, such as answering questions about things like activating bluetooth or changing the brightness, to make it easy for new users to settle in and get a hang of things.
Updated Video Player
The stock video player will get a major revamp and will provide new APIs so that other video services can tie in to the stock video player. (While this is great, Google would also do well to provide support for more video codecs out of the box, just like Samsung adds in their devices with TouchWiz, which would remove the need to grab third-party video players from the Play Store.)
Wrapping things up
Android and Me reports that Google has already handed out Nexus devices running Android 4.2 to its employees, as they have seen a lot of visitors to their website from devices running on Android 4.2. With talk of LG’s Nexus being released in November, this could mean that we are indeed going to see a new Nexus device as well as a new Android version soon.
If the rumors of these new features and changes Google is preparing for come true, it could mean a major step forward for Android, though there is speculation that some features will not be fully present in Android 4.2 but will lay the groundwork for Android 5.0, so it could be a while before we get to see all the new plans come to fruition. But even the thought that Google is working on so many good changes already is enough to make us happy, so let us see what the future holds.