Google is very good about launching its emulators of the newest versions of Android just as they announce them, and today is no different — Jelly Bean is available now for developers to begin tooling with and testing their apps on. We've taken the opportunity to install the new SDK to spend some extended time with the new operating system, so join us, won't you?
The first thing we noticed after booting up Android 4.1 is that this really is a fairly minor update — the major changes that were shown during the day 1 Google I/O event were focused on updates to first-party apps like Search and Google Now. None of those are available yet and they are not included in the emulator, so we were limited to exploring how the core of Android has changed. Starting with the lock screen, there are a few cosmetic changes, and those extend to the notification tray as well, which is now a bit more stylized. Google announced that the notification tray now features actionable notifications, but without access to third party apps we haven't been able to test this functionality yet. Additionally, Google has tweaked how one adds and organizes apps and widgets on home screens: one can place a widget anywhere and whatever is in the way will move automatically. It's a incremental change that makes a huge difference in practice. Otherwise, there isn't much to speak of: Calendar, People, Dialer, Messaging, and many other apps are completely unchanged. Be sure to dive into the gallery above to see it all for yourself — including some small tweaks to the settings menus and a handful of new wallpapers. For more on Jelly Bean, check out our hands-on of the Nexus 7 tablet and our roundup of the changes Google has brought to its mobile OS.