- Ease of use The simple UI introduced in Android 4.0 continues to be improved with a better notification menu and the introduction of Google Now.
- Speed The use of Project Butter brings the experience of the Galaxy Nexus almost on par with an iPhone 4S.
- Configurability The ability to switch default apps is the best experience of any mobile platform currently available.
- Ecosystem (apps, drivers, etc.) For smartphones the Android ecosystem is amazing, but when it comes to tablet apps the platform is still in its infancy. Apple has done much better in numbers.
- Openness Maybe the most open mobile platforms in existence. If you don't like an app, a replacement is out there.
Google Now, the new, simplified search app easily pulls up relevant information without any of the fluff that Siri presents. While Google Now is not a "Siri killer" it is most certainly more accurate and requires less user interaction. The new introduction of cards allows for specific searches or relevant information to be displayed to the user; this can include sport scores from you favorite teams and their upcoming games, flight information from your recent Google searches, and the weather of your current location. The best thing about Google creating cards for your searches is the ability to view the rest of the results like a normal google search in a nicer interface. Along with Google Now's great search function comes voice interactions based on the preexisting voice input function finnaly giving the impressive voice dictation a worthy use in the ever continuing search for relevant information.
The notification slide that has been present in every shipping version of android has finnaly been granted some attention and has been redesigned in a subtle but amazing way. Certain results such as emails will allow for a user to do a two finger swipe downward to reveal the sender and a snippet of the contents and title. The same action can be applied to Google+ notifications allowing the user to view newly uploaded posts and +1 them and see any pictures attached to the post. This new feature will allow for many apps to simplify their notifications lending themselves to the minimal style present in Android.
Perhaps the best new item in the 4.1 update is that the entire system is incredibly smooth. This is thanks to Project Butter, a new initiative to take the OS one step closer to making the entire experience cohesive and almost invisible. In my personal opinion this update has made the Samsung Galaxy Nexus almost on par with the iPhone 4S. I say almost because Apple suspends all background actions when the screen is being actively used allowing for the smoothest interface of any platform.
Not all of the small issues present in Ice Cream Sandwich were fixed however. The home screen still does not rotate into a landscape orientation, some UI elements are still off center, and the new notification menu's two finger swipe action is slightly awkward with one hand on the device; this is especially troubling as the feature is toted as making th process of checking notifications simpler. Overall this version of Android is the best version yet (as has every update before it) and has finnaly brought Android closer to the smoothness of iOS, a much needed factor in the mobile device war. The biggest issue is when will the update hit a large percentage of the Android market? Until the issue of phone updates is reduced my recommendation for the best not tech-savvy consumer will continue to be the iPhone, regardless of my favorite platform.
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