While we in New York cower behind cans of overpriced and underflavored Amy's Soup, those spoiled techies out in Mountain View, California--the location of Google headquarters--announced a whole mess of new Android stuff today. Here's what you need to know.
Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean): Android 4.2 is not that big of a deal, especially compared with the last version,
Ice Cream Sandwich Android 4.1, which brought Google Now (an honest-to-god revolution) and Project Butter (a huge improvement in regular use of Android phones). Android 4.2 has: Miracast, which does basically the same thing as Apple's AirPlay. It'll require a box or a new kind of smart TV to work, though LG says all of its future smart TVs will have it (and LG's TVs are quite good). The new Android also has a screensaver mode, which, fine, whatever, and multiple user support so all members of a household can use the same tablet while keeping their apps and settings and stuff. And there's a panorama mode called Photo Sphere, which lets you take a complete spherical view of your surroundings. That'll actually make for some pretty cool photos, I think.
Oh, and Google Now is better! It'll now reach into your Gmail--I know, I know, creepy, but Google Now always straddled that line between creepy and useful--for stuff like flight and hotel information.
Of course, what really matters with tablets isn't hardware, but software, and Android tablets have never quite figured out how to cajole developers into making lots of quality apps fit for the larger screen. Hopefully Google gets that process going!
Now the bad news: The Nexus 4 is, right now, a T-Mobile exclusive in the US. It's only available in 8GB and 16GB sizes, and doesn't support superfast 4G LTE, because the T-Mobile network doesn't super superfast 4G LTE. That...kind of sucks.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.