Google explains Android 4.1 update

Mobile searching revamped

Google has unveiled the latest update to its Android mobile operating system.

Android 4.1, also known as Jelly Bean, was demonstrated to an audience at the Google I/O conference, and revealed a number of changes to the way search results are to be presented on mobile devices.

An updated interface has been created in a bid to improve search results, which will incorporate the Knowledge Graph function released back in May 2012.

Google will use this data to present users with information cards related to their search, as opposed to the old SERPs that people have become used to. For example, searching for a celebrity will prompt a card containing an image and some brief biographical information.

The second new feature is evidently a direct response to Apple's Siri voice search system. Early reports suggest Google's voice-activated search tool offers faster and more informative results, while it has a distinct advantage over Siri in that users are able to interact with the system offline for dictation purposes.

Google Now

Arguably the most interesting of all the new features in Android 4.1 is Google Now, which takes information it already knows about the user and presents a contextually relevant set of search results.

For instance, someone who has added their weekly meeting schedule to their calendar and is about to set off from home can touch the search box and have Google Now use their schedule, location and the time of day, plus current traffic reports, in order to plan the best route and let them know what time they can expect to arrive.

As Android 4.1 is not released officially until July 2012, it is unclear how far the capabilities of Google Now will stretch, but their presentation has certainly whetted the appetites of many fans.

Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword, said: "Android 4.1 shows Google is keen to stay ahead of the competition, and it will be interesting to see how users interact with Google Now. Their improved voice search also suggests they are especially keen to outdo Apple's Siri."