Android Jelly Bean – Search/Now App & Voice Commands

Android Jelly Bean - Google Now/Search App - Weather
Google Now weather card on left; Weather card from Google Search app on right.

The Good

Voice commands now recognise my Indian accent, and do a pretty good job of it. Much better than any other speech recognition service I’ve used so far. Thanks Google!

The Not So Good

When using voice commands (or just regular text-input search) from home screen, the Google Search/Now app forgets all about my location, and other relevant data.

For instance, by default the app shows a card with weather in my location (London, UK). But when I ask for temperature (weather) using the same app, it shows me a card with weather in Washington, DC!

I tried a few other searches too – pizza joints, bus services, etc. In all cases, the app just displays generic results without using my location (or time zone) information. Is something badly broken here, or am I doing something very wrong? Hope folk from Android team notice this issue (there seems to be no way of sending feedback/bug report) and sort this out.

Also, there’s the small bit that the Indian accented speech recognition works only with an Internet connection. Offline recognition only supports US, UK and Australian English :(

More, as it comes.

Android Jelly Bean – First Impressions & Suggestions

Android - Jelly Bean
Android – Jelly Bean

Great Things

  • Super fast responsiveness.
  • Love the transition effects in/out of apps, but would’ve loved to have an option to switch them off.
  • Google’s own apps have been optimized and work really well.
  • Default Gallery app has been fixed – use to take ages to load albums, now is faster than even QuickPic.
  • Google Now works brilliantly.
  • Face Unlock now works despite my having encrypted the phone (in ICS, only options were password and passcode), and works really well!


  • While Google’s own apps have been optimised for Jelly Bean, most of 3rd party apps haven’t. This causes quite a bit of dissonance – both in appearance and performance.
  • Google Now works really well here in London. Wonder how it’ll do when I visit back home to my small town in India. Or even smaller towns here in the UK.


Matias Duarte and the Android team have done a great job on the looks and responsiveness of Android. They now need to sort the issues around wide variety in quality of apps, and of OS upgrades. I suggest they exchange notes with the Chrome team.

For homogenizing the app quality, they should take a similar approach to what Chrome team has announced for roll-out of Manifest Version 2 to apps on Chrome Web Store ( See ‘Manifest version 1 support schedule‘). Also, as earlier suggested by Abraham Williams, OS updates should be moved to a rapid release schedule, and (my input) be turned into silent upgrades – just like Chrome.

These changes might require some heavy lifting at the OS/update architecture level, but can be real game changers for Android in the platform wars.

Continue reading Android Jelly Bean – First Impressions & Suggestions