Sprint first in U.S. to roll out Android Jelly Bean to Galaxy S III

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Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is the first U.S. operator to update Samsung Electronics' flagship Galaxy S III smartphone to run Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 4.1, a.k.a. Jelly Bean.

Samsung Galaxy S III

Sprint is rolling out Android Jelly Bean today as an over-the-air update. The software upgrade arrives just a week after Samsung pledged Jelly Bean support for all Galaxy S III units sold by its U.S. operator partners--the manufacturer did not specify a timeframe for the rollout, however, stating only that the Jelly Bean overhaul would be complete "in the coming months," which some interpreted to mean early 2013.

"The specific timing and update method will be announced by each carrier partner," Samsung said last week. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), T-Mobile USA and U.S. Cellular have not yet revealed their respective Jelly Bean update plans.

Alongside core Android 4.1 features like Project Butter (a reworked UI engine), a revamped homescreen and Google Now, which includes personalized information such as local weather and traffic updates, Samsung's Jelly Bean update integrates customized enhancements including an overhauled version of the device maker's TouchWiz UI, new live camera and camcorder filters, the Pop Up Play picture-in-picture video window and Easy Mode, which offering widget-based access to users' favorite apps as well as a blocking mode that silences incoming calls, alerts and notifications.

The updated Galaxy S III also supports the AllShare Cast Wireless Hub accessory, which allows users to wirelessly mirror their device screen to any HDTV or HDMI display, as well as Bluetooth-enabled NFC One Touch Pairing.

Samsung first vowed to update the Galaxy S III to Android Jelly Bean late last month, adding it would extend the upgrade to 11 additional smartphones: The Galaxy S II, Galaxy S II LTE, Galaxy Note, Galaxy S Advance, Galaxy Chat, Galaxy Ace 2, Galaxy Ace Plus, Galaxy Beam, Galaxy Mini 2, Galaxy Music and Galaxy S Duos. Samsung also will update four tablets: The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and Galaxy Note 10.1.

According to Google's Android Developers dashboard, Android Jelly Bean currently powers just 1.8 percent of all devices worldwide. Last week, Sony Mobile said it will update all of its 2012 Xperia branded smartphones to run Jelly Bean, but not Xperia models produced prior to this year. HTC has vowed to upgrade its One series products to support Jelly Bean, and LG Electronics has vowed to overhaul some of its Optimus smartphones as well. Google-owned Motorola Mobility has promised to upgrade most post-2011 devices to Jelly Bean and will offer a $100 credit to consumers who purchased some newer phones that are not in line for the update.

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