So we’ve had a few days to digest Google’s enormous update to Android, with the release of its “Ice Cream Sandwich” Android 4.0 software adding a huge amount of new functionality and visual polish to the mobile OS.
But what about the Android 4.5 or Android 5? Google pumps out Android updates faster than we can scoff double-choc Magnums, and it’s already been reported that work on the next version of Android is under way, with the so-called “Android Jelly Bean ” update next on the radar.
So what would we like to see in Andoid Jelly Bean? Can Android 4.0 be topped, or would we all be better off with HTC Sense, TouchWiz, or surrendering to the weight of public opinion and buying an iPhone 4S?
Here’s what we’d like Google to include in Android Jelly Bean. Hit the comments to share your own Jelly Bean wishlist.
1. Full Chrome browser
The changes made to Android 4.0’s web browser are welcome, bringing in the fancy Android 3.0 tabbed browsing system and support for Chrome’s bookmark sync system. But with phone screens continually ballooning in size, a proper mobile version of Chrome in Android Jelly Bean, complete with bookmarks bar and constantly on-screen tabs, would make sense. Just to make phones and tablets feel more like home.
POLISHED CHROME: The browser’s nice. But Chrome is nicer. On a 4.65″ screen it’d work just fine, too
2. Landscape Home screen on mobile
Seeing as the Galaxy Nexus has such an enormous screen that’s bordering on tablet size anyway, it’d be nice to be able to flip it into landscape mode and use it like a tablet – especially as Android 4.0 is designed to unify phones and tablets.
Traditionally, Android only lets the Home screen switch into landscape mode when using a QWERTY device, with non-QWERTYs only using landscape for apps, games and web. It’s an odd decision. Give us a sideways option in Android Jelly Bean, with a locking toggle so we can go sideways for life.
3. Give us a File Manager
It’s a bit of a nerdy thing to demand a simple file manager, but it’s something we all need every once in a while, to find something randomly placed on the SD card. Several of the hardware makers put on their own custom managers, and there are third-party apps on the Android Market, but it shouldn’t be something we have to track down or look for.
4. Update the text input options
We understand that Google perhaps doesn’t want to step on the toes of the third-party keyboard developers like SwiftKey and Swype, but surely the standard Android keyboard could be updated just a little? The Android 4.0 keyboard doesn’t even include long-pressing to access alternate characters and numbers, which is a simple, obvious, time saving solution that numerous other keyboard apps manage.
BETTER KEYBOARD: Come on. Alternate characters are easy and make typing less of a pain. Let’s have them
5. A clear upgrade path
Google has already tried to act on clearing up the OS upgrade mess, stating back in May that it wanted most key future devices to be guaranteed the “latest platform updates” if the hardware was capable. But that’s already been made a mockery by Android 4.0, with the likes of HTC saying it’s “reviewing” Android 4.0 to see if it fancies the task of rolling it out. That shouldn’t happen. Everyone should get it. On the same day. It’s embarrassing for Android when iOS updates launch globally at the same minute of the day.
6. Android Jelly Bean Lite
We’re all for the rapid power surge Android has seen. There’s nothing better than an OS that works like a charm on a dual-core, £500 superphone. But what about the cheaper models with limited CPUs and memory?
A simpler, toned down version of Android Jelly Bean designed to run well on less powerful hardware would be great. Sort of like Windows XP on a netbook. Most of the features, but light enough so that even £80 emergency spare Android phones are fit for purpose.
7. User interface on/off toggles
It’s good that HTC, Sony Ericsson and most of the other big Android makers add their own customisations to Android, helping phones stand out from each other and giving buyers a bit of extra choice. But it’s also good to experience the core Android interface as well.
At the moment, we have to choose, with only a tiny handful of smaller phone makers letting us deactivate their user interfaces and revert to standard Android. We’d like that to become a mandatory feature, so we can all play with the basic Android that sits beneath HTC Sense and the rest of the interfaces. Android 4.0 is beautiful. Let’s see it.
8. Focus on power efficiency and management
We’re all totally over using task killers, but it would be good to see some official recognition of the immense power-drain we suffer that has us nursing phones to make them last an entire day. A simple set of power options at boot up, or in the menu, would help.
Being able to manually select a slower, clunkier, low-power mode for keeping essential calling features alive for longer would be useful. We’d sacrifice web browser scrolling speed for an extra 20 minutes of texting time.
Some of the handset makers already do this – HTC packs in quite a few power management tools as part of its Sense UI – but there’s not much support in Google’s own interface. A bit more control than just dimming the brightness and praying would be nice.
9. A lighter theme option
Android 4.0 is pretty and everything, but isn’t white text on a black background all a bit “Geocities” in this day and age? When blown up to tablet resolution, it may just look a little bit empty and dark. Sure, we can add in pretty background images, but it’s not the same.
LIGHTEN UP: Available in colours other than black next time, please
10. Lock screen widgets
It’s lovely what Google has done to the Android 4.0 lock screen (taking ideas from Samsung and HTC…) but it could do so much more. It’d be a massive security risk to have every widget available on the lock screen, but then again, Android is supposed to be about choice.
If we want our missed calls widget on perma-display, it’s our fault if the data’s stolen. The popularity of the many third-party lock screen apps surely indicates there’s a demand to see this in Android Jelly Bean?
IMPROVABLE: Nice lock screen. But could do better. B-