Google I/O, the company's annual developer conference, kicks off on June 27th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. We're expecting Google to make a number of announcements, but the largest of those will no doubt be its new Android 5.0 Jelly Bean operating system, its Asus Tegra 3 Nexus tablet and its new Nexus product partners.
What can we expect from Jelly Bean? Nobody really knows at this point (except for insiders at Google, of course). Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was a huge step for the operating system. It brought us Android Beam, Face Unlock, an entirely revamped and cleaner user interface with a better keyboard and much more. Plus, it's fairly consistent across phones and tablets. Where can Google improve? Here's our wish list for Android 5.0 Jelly Bean.
A Better Browser
Android's default browser is decent, but it lacks a lot of features that competing browsers offer. I've found Chrome, even though its in beta, to be a much better product. It's super easy to cruise through multiple tabs at once and it keeps in sync with Chrome on my desktop. Imagine mobile sync across your tablet and smartphone, too. HTC added a great feature in Sense 4.0 that allows you to store pages for offline reading — much like Pocket offers – in a text-only format. I want that in Jelly Bean. I wouldn't be surprised if Google takes Chrome out of beta and brings it primetime in Android 5.0 Jelly Bean. Oh, and improved HTML5 support wouldn't hurt, either.
More Keyboard Improvements
The default keyboard in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is much better than earlier iterations, but it's still not perfect. I think there's always room for keyboard improvement and I'd like to see Android make its onscreen QWERTY even more accurate. I still, for example, tap the "." instead of the spacebar while typing — and I've been using Android ICS as my daily driver for several months. What's up with that? Fat fingers, I guess. I secretly wish Google would pull in the Windows Phone QWERTY keyboard, which is among the best I've ever used.
Clear and Specific Spec Requirements
This is just a fantasy of mine, but I'd really like Google to follow Microsoft's Windows Phone lead and lay down a law of requirements for what Android 5.0 Jelly Bean will support and what it won't. That way we'll all have a better idea of what phones will receive the update faster. Plus, it should help the company begin to eliminate its fragmentation problem. With a set range of supported screen sizes, resolutions, processors and hardware designs, the company will be able to help both manufacturers and carriers issue future Android iterations quicker.
Tighter Address Book, Social Network and App Integration
webOS was amazing. It allowed you to keep a clean chat conversation across multiple clients. You could, for instance, chat with a friend and then switch to SMS if you or your friend signed offline. The entire conversation thread was left untouched, however, and flowed naturally no matter what client you were using. I hope Google combines this option with Google Talk and SMS and maybe takes it a step further with Skype. I'd love to take this as my own idea, but BuzzFeed explained it best in an article titled "How to Fix Smartphones." I imagine being able to select a contact and decide whether or not I wanted to Dropbox them a file, initiate a voice call, send a Facebook message and more. Or what if I could do all of this while I was on a phone call with them? As it stands, you can do all of these things, but in reverse order. You can, for example, open an image and decide to share via several of the aforementioned methods. But why can't you choose those options directly from the address book?
Better Integration Between Android Phones and Tablets
This one shouldn't be too hard to execute. I wish that I could quickly and seamlessly move content from my Android smartphone to my Android tablet. Android Beam with NFC could enable this, if we had NFC-enabled tablets. I want the integration to go deeper, though. What if I could somehow use my tablet to send text messages to and from my phone? Or see that a phone call is arriving on my phone while I'm on my tablet? It reminds me a bit of what Motorola tried to do with its laptop dock accessory, which allowed you to plug in a phone and maintain full control over it in a netbook-style form factor, and what Asus is doing with its Padfone. Actually, now that I think about it, I want what RIM did with BlackBerry Bridge between BlackBerry smartphones and the PlayBook… but better.
More Widgets And A More Customizable Home Screen
You'll have to check out the Kickstarter Chameleon project to see what I really mean here, but I hope Google updates its widget selection and makes them even more robust. I'd love to see better widget resize controls and the ability to organize my homescreen without any spaces in between my icons and my widgets. I'm thinking along the lines of how Windows Phone's homescreen looks, but with deeper controls and an even more "alive" experience. Chameleon, for example, allows the home screen to change depending on your location or the time of day. Google should just buy that product… the idea is too perfect.
There's a lot more I want from Android 5.0 Jelly Bean. I want home automation — Google has already demoed this as part of [email protected] — but I'm not so sure we'll see that yet, I want better voice controls, improved navigation and better power management controls so that my battery isn't dead by 3pm. I can't have it all though, and we'll know more on June 27th when Google kicks off its Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco. We'll be reporting live, so stay tuned for more.
In the meantime, what do you want most from Jelly Bean?
Update: At IO 2012, Google has revealed that Jelly Bean is actually Android 4.1, not 5.0. Be sure to check out the top 5 features of Jelly Bean!