Google finally took the wraps off the new version of Android it neglected to announce back at I/O (instead releasing new features via Play Services instead). Here’s what’s new.
Control User Accounts with Restricted Profiles
In Android 4.2, Google added the ability to created additional users for a tablet, much the same way that Windows handles users. In Android 4.3, device owners can create restricted profiles that have limits on what a user can do. For example, you can prevent a child’s account on a device from being able to make in-app purchases. Developers can also make its app behave differently based on which type of profile it’s being viewed in. In the example app shown, the child’s account can’t even see extra levels available for purchase
Get Easier Access to Contacts with Dial Pad Auto Complete
For users that have skinned versions of Android, this will probably be pretty boring, but stock Android can now auto complete names and phone numbers directly from the dialer. Previously, if you wanted to pull up a person’s phone number while dialing, you had to tap the search icon and start typing a name. It’s a small change, but it’s a welcome one.
Bluetooth Can Now Pair with Low-Power Devices
Google added new Bluetooth 4.0 features that allow devices to pair directly with low-power devices. This is great news for people who use fitness sensors and such. During the demo, Google put a heart rate monitor on an engineer doing jumping jacks, and his heart rate was updated live on a phone a few feet away in real time.
Keep Location Features with Always-On Wi-Fi Scanning
Wi-Fi often does double-duty as a location service if you don’t want to leave GPS on all the time. If you switch off Wi-Fi to save battery, though, this brings location services down with it. In Android 4.3, your device can continue scanning for Wi-Fi in a more passive mode that uses much less battery, but still pings for networks so you can keep location-based features. If you’d prefer not to do this, you can disable it in Settings.
If you’re feeling a bit underwhelmed, consider directing your attention to the Play Services announcements made back at Google I/O earlier this year. As we’ve noted before, Google’s beginning to shift new features to this platform, which can be updated independent of a new OS announcement. This may mean fewer sweet new features for Android updates themselves, but you also won’t have to wait as long to get your hands on them.