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Using Jelly Bean on the Galaxy Tab 2

The Android 4.1 operating system, better known by its nickname Jelly Bean, is now available on the Galaxy Tab 2. In this article, Eric Butow, author of My Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, gives a tour of Jelly Bean’s new features, including the new Status Bar, home screen updates, the Google Now app, and more.

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When Samsung released the Galaxy Tab 2, the Android 4.0 operating system—better known as Ice Cream Sandwich—was pre-installed on the unit. About a month after Que published My Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Samsung made Android 4.1.1 available so Galaxy Tab 2 users could upgrade to the latest version of Android, better known as Jelly Bean. In this article, we look at some of the differences and improvements in Jelly Bean on your Tab 2.

By default, your Galaxy Tab 2 automatically checks for operating system upgrades, and you may have already upgraded to Jelly Bean. If you haven't and want to do so, open the Settings screen and slide down in the menu bar until you see About Device. Tap Add Device in the menu, tap Software update in the About Device menu on the right, and then tap Update. The system will check for updates and take you through the steps of installing Jelly Bean on your Tab 2.

Once Jelly Bean has been installed, you'll see a home screen that looks a bit different from the Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) home screen, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 The Jelly Bean home screen in horizontal orientation

The home screen has some different features than what’s in Ice Cream Sandwich:

  • The Notification bar has been split into a Status Bar that appears on the top of the screen. The Notification bar still appears at the bottom of the screen but includes fewer icons.
  • The AccuWeather.com app appears at the top of the page so you can see the current date, time, and weather conditions at a glance. Tap the Refresh button at the lower-right corner of the app window to refresh the weather information.
  • Below the AccuWeather.com app window, you’ll see the Google Search box. Tap the box to open the Google Now screen; you’ll learn more about Google Now later in this article.
  • If the screen is in horizontal orientation as shown in Figure 1, then six apps appear at the bottom of the screen just above the home screen dots. In Ice Cream Sandwich, these dots appeared at the top of the screen but now appear at the bottom just above the notification bar. Pinned icons appear at the right side of the screen, even when you swipe back and forth between home screens. These icons include the Apps icon so you can view the Apps screen.
  • If the screen is in vertical orientation as shown in Figure 2, then you’ll see the pinned apps at the bottom of the screen underneath the home page dots.

Figure 2 The Jelly Bean home screen in vertical orientation

The Status Bar

The left side of the Status Bar contains icons with information about new features or e-mail messages. For example, a Google Mail icon denotes that you have new e-mail messages. On the right side of the Status Bar, you’ll see the current time, the battery icon, and the Wi-Fi connectivity icon if you’re connected to the Internet through a Wi-Fi connection.

The Notification Bar

The Notification Bar still appears at the bottom of the screen with three icons in the center of the bar that appear as follows, from left to right:

  • When you tap the Task List icon, the Task screen opens and displays graphic tiles in the center of the screen, as shown in Figure 3. The most recent app you opened appears on the right side of the screen. The menu bar appears just above the Notification Bar so you can access the Task Manager app within the Settings screen, open the Google Now app by tapping Google, or close all apps by tapping Delete All. You can delete a single app from the screen by tapping and holding on the tile and then tapping Delete From List in the pop-up menu, or by swiping the tile up or down on the screen.
  • Tap the Home icon to return to the Home screen.
  • Tap the Back icon to return to the previous screen. If you have the keyboard open, tap the Back icon to close it but remain in the current screen; tap the Back icon again to return to the previous screen.
  • At the right side of the bar, tap the up arrow icon to view and edit the list of Mini Apps in Jelly Bean. You’ll learn more about Mini Apps in another article, “View, Use, and Change Mini Apps on the Galaxy Tab 2.”

Figure 3 The Task screen appears when you tap the Task Manager icon in the Notification Bar

The Settings and Notification Window

In Ice Cream Sandwich, you opened the Settings and Notification window by tapping on the clock in the Notification Bar. The procedure is different in Jelly Bean: Tap and hold anywhere in the Status bar and then swipe down the screen. You’ll see the window on the left side of the screen in vertical orientation (as shown in Figure 4) or in the top center of the screen in horizontal orientation.

Figure 4 The Settings and Notification window appears on the left side of the screen in vertical orientation

At the top of the window, you’ll see the time and date. To the right of the time and date, tap the Settings icon to open the Settings window.

Underneath the time and date, you’ll see a row of setting tiles that allow you to turn features on or off such as screen rotation. Icons in green indicate the feature is on, and icons in gray indicate the feature is off. You can swipe to the left and right to view all the tiles, and tap on a tile to turn the feature on or off.

The brightness slider bar appears below the row of tiles so you can change the screen brightness by sliding your finger to the left or right in the slider bar. Tap the Auto checkbox to have the Tab 2 set the screen brightness automatically.

Below the slider bar you’ll see a list of recent notifications such as new Gmail messages. At the very bottom of the window you’ll see a black bar that contains the name of your device. You can close the window by tapping on an area of the screen outside the window and between the Status and Notification bars.

What Else Has Changed?

Aside from the look and feel of the screens, Jelly Bean has some other interesting features:

  • Google Now is a new feature that monitors your activity on your Tab 2 and gives you information you’re looking for when you access the Google Now app. Open the Google Now app by tapping and holding on the Home icon in the Navigation bar and then swiping up toward the Google icon that appears above the Home icon. The Google Now app will take you through a brief tutorial and ask you if you want to start the app. The app appears as shown in Figure 5, and shows you various features in various tiles, called cards, that Google Now thinks you’ll be interested in based on your past activity. For example, you may see cards with your local weather, upcoming appointments, and current traffic conditions where you live.

Figure 5 Scroll down to look at all your cards, or you can type search terms in the Search box at the top of the Google Now app screen

  • Google increased the speed and responsiveness of features within Jelly Bean, most notably with the suggested words that appear as you type on the on-screen keyboard.
  • There is a new feature of Maps, which is discussed within My Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 in Chapter 11, for making maps available online. After you tap the Menu icon in the upper-right corner of the screen, you’ll see the Make Available Offline option, shown in Figure 6. When you tap this option, the Maps app downloads a selected area of the map you’re viewing to your Tab 2 so you can refer to it when you’re not connected to the Internet. Note that the size of the map area you can download is limited by available storage space on your Tab 2.

Figure 6 The Make Available Offline option appears in the menu so you can download the selected area of the map to your Tab 2

I’ll cover Google Now and making maps available offline in future articles.

What's Next?

The most recent version of Jelly Bean, version 4.2.2, was released in February 2013, though that version is not available for the Tab 2 as of this writing. Samsung may wait to upgrade Android on the Tab 2 until the next major release of Android appears. According to the latest rumors, Android 5.0, or Key Lime Pie, will be released in the second quarter of 2013. If a new version of Jelly Bean or Key Lime Pie is available for the Tab 2, check the My Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 page on the Que website for a new article about using that new Android version. For now, enjoy working with Android 4.1.1 on your Galaxy Tab 2.

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