Android Jelly Bean expands to Verizon's Galaxy S III, Sprint's Evo 4G LTE


Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 4.1, a.k.a. Jelly Bean, is expanding to two high-profile smartphones: Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is updating Samsung Electronics' flagship Galaxy S III, while Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is upgrading its exclusive HTC Evo 4G LTE.

Verizon is rolling out the over-the-air Android Jelly Bean update in phases, beginning today; in addition, Galaxy S III owners can manually download the upgrade via the settings menu within the next week. Alongside core Android 4.1 features such as the Project Butter UI engine, a revamped homescreen and Google Now, which includes personalized information such as local weather and traffic, the Verizon update includes new photo editing and filtering features as well as video enhancements. Android Jelly Bean also makes the Galaxy S III global-ready and adds support for Isis, the Near Field Communications-enabled virtual wallet service spearheaded by Verizon, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA.

Verizon is the last of the four major U.S. operators to update the Galaxy S III to Android Jelly Bean: Sprint rolled out the upgrade in late October, followed a few weeks later by T-Mobile. AT&T joined their ranks earlier this month.

Sprint's Evo 4G LTE owners can manually download Android Jelly Bean now by accessing the smartphone's settings menu; the carrier will not kick off its over-the-air rollout until Jan. 3. This particular iteration of Jelly Bean also updates the HTC Sense graphical user interface to version 4+, adding improved camera capabilities like Auto Portrait and Sightseeing Mode. It also adds a new Tap and Go feature enabling subscribers to connect the phone to select Beats Audio speakers when "tapped" together. Sprint is also adding improved Wi-Fi authentication, personalized ringtones, enhanced browser performance and upgrades to Google services like YouTube, Maps and Gmail. 

Not to be outdone, AT&T announced Friday that Motorola Atrix HD owners may now upgrade their devices to Android Jelly Bean as well. The update, available for download via Wi-Fi through the phone's settings menu, includes features promoting the operator's It Can Wait initiative against distracted driving, like Enhanced Voice Search and Drive Rule, which sets the phone to auto-reply to calls and texts when the user is behind the wheel.

The Atrix HD is the fourth AT&T smartphone updated to Jelly Bean, following the Galaxy S III as well as Samsung's Galaxy Note II and HTC's One X+.

According to Google's updated Android Developers dashboard, Android Jelly Bean now powers 5.9 percent of all devices worldwide, up from 2.7 percent in November. Android 2.3, nicknamed Gingerbread, remains the dominant OS version, powering 50.8 percent of devices. Android 4.0, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, follows at 27.5 percent.

For more:
- read this Verizon Wireless News Center update
- read this Engadget article

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