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Android 4.2 review

Reviews
Published 
5 Dec 2012
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Our Rating 
5/5

Multiple user accounts are a huge step forward for tablets, but there's little for smartphone users to get excited about

Page 1 of 3Android 4.2 review

Specifications

Google currently has a full range of up-to-date, own-branded Android devices, all of which come with the latest version of the mobile operating system – Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean). In fact, if you want the latest version of Android then Google’s own devices are the only place to get it right now, thankfully they’re all great picks.

Android 4.2

Still looks the same, but there's a couple of big changes

There’s the excellent Google Nexus 4 smartphone (made by LG), the aggressively priced Google Nexus 7 tablet (from Asus), and it’s bigger brother the technically impressive Google Nexus 10 (by Samsung). It’s undeniably the best line up of Android devices to date.

The move from Android 4.1 to Android 4.2 includes some great new features, some of which have never been seen before on modern mobile devices. Here’s our rundown of the most important.

MULTIPLE USERS

Android tablets, but not smartphones, running Android 4.2 can now have multiple users. This is a huge feature and one we've been crying out for ages. It means you can share a tablet with other people in your home, with everyone having their own apps, email etc. Having a family tablet that everyone can use is a great idea, and something that's not available on iPad, and is unlikely to ever be available.

Android 4.2

Adding an extra user is easy -just go to Settings, Users and follow the instructions

Adding a second user is easy, you just go to Settings/User and tap the Add User button. The new user then logs in with their Google account, or creates a new account. Once logged in, the tablet appears to be as new, with clear homepages, just the pre-installed apps. They can even adjust settings, such as screen brightness or timeout duration to their own desires.

The new user can install their own apps, though they will need to buy these for their account, so for example, they won't be able to play games owned by the tablets original user. On the plus side, you will be able to have your own save games and preferences in apps.

Android 4.2

These coloured buttons, on the lock screen, switch between users

You can easily switch users from the lock screen by simply tapping on the coloured circles at the bottom of the screen to select your user. If you want, you can have a PIN or other security method, as per usual, to stop others logging into your account. At present these are full accounts, and the original user can't limit the ability to install apps or use the web browser. We'd like to see more limited accounts (such as on the Sony Xperia Tablet S) for use by children.

NOTIFICATIONS AND SETTINGS

There wasn't much wrong with Google's handling of notifications and settings, but they've been improved all the same. The notifications bar is still accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen, though now the notifications themselves have been improved with the addition of buttons that let you take direct actions.

For example, if you have a missed call notification there will be Call Back and Message buttons below it, so you can take these common actions immediately, rather than having to tap through to the dialler and then find the right button there. Alerts for events can be snoozed and social updates can be shared onwards. It's all a matter of reducing the number of prods you have to make.

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