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Google outlines Android 4.2 upgrade plans for Galaxy Nexus and Xoom

Fresh from the sell-out launch of its Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 devices, Google has begun the task of rolling out the Android 4.2 'Jelly Bean' upgrade to its older devices.

Launching exclusively on the LG-manufactured Nexus 4 smartphone and Samsung-built Nexus 10 tablet, Android 4.2 brings a selection of improvements to the platform from under-the-hood tweaks to improve performance to an impressive 360-degree panoramic photo mode. The system also includes the latest version of Google Now, a voice-activated assistant designed to take on Apple's popular Siri found on selected iPhone models.

Those eager to get their hands on the update were left disappointed, however, as demand overwhelmed Google's servers and saw the smartphone sell out in mere minutes world-wide. Although additional stock is expected to arrive in the coming weeks, there is an alternative to waiting: upgrading an existing handset to Android 4.2.

Although Google has officially released the source code for Android 4.2 as part of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP,) no third-party manufacturer has announced upgrade plans. Google itself, however, has begun offering the software to Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 owners starting from today. Owners of those devices need do nothing to receive the upgrade: when the software is available, the phone or tablet will prompt the user to install the update for free.

Users of older handsets aren't quite so lucky: Google's official upgrade plans leave the earlier Nexus S smartphone and Motorola Xoom tablets, the launch devices for Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' and Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' respectively, with no upgrade path to the latest version of the mobile operating system.

Given time, however, the upgrades from Android 4.2 will trickle down into the third-party firmware upgrades offered unofficially by fans and tinkerers, such as the popular CyanogenMod family. These will allow users of unsupported handsets to upgrade, but come with a warranty-destroying warning attached.

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