When Google's Nexus 10 tablet was unveiled recently, it was running Android 4.2, a new version which adds several features. That version is coming to your Nexus 7 or Galaxy Nexus device as well. Here's what Android 4.2 brings, where to get it, and which Nexus devices are missing out.
New features in Android 4.2
Mashable's Christina Warren has the scoop on what Android 4.2's bringing. Flashy additions include Daydream, a sort of screensaver for your smartphone or tablet, and Photo Sphere, a new way to take panoramic photographs that capture the whole world around you. Right now you can only see Photo Sphere images on Google+ or in Google Maps, but according to David Ruddock of the Android Police blog Google has made it so "Anyone could, in theory, build a Photo Sphere viewer."
Less immediately noticeable improvements include a Swype-style gesture keyboard, where you don't need to type individual letters, and a feature that lets multiple people share the same Android tablet without their apps and things getting in each others' way. You'll also be able to mirror your Android device's screen on your HDTV, Apple AirPlay style, although instead of an Apple TV box you'll need a third-party wireless display adapter.
Who's getting the upgrade now
Nexus 7 owners are already beginning to receive the Android 4.2 upgrade over the air. Your tablet will automatically check for it every so often, but if you want to hurry it along you can go to Settings -> About tablet -> System updates, and tell it to check again. You can also download it from Google and manually install it using Liam Spradlin's instructions, although this is not recommended unless you're an experienced Android hacker and are using the Wi-Fi version of the Nexus 7.
Galaxy Nexus owners who bought their phones from a wireless carrier have had to wait an unusually long time for upgrades, as long as several months after a new Android version's announced. If you bought your Galaxy Nexus phone from a wireless carrier, an upgrade probably won't be available anytime soon. People who purchased their Galaxy Nexus from the Google Play store are reporting that they are getting the upgrade, though, and Spradlin again has instructions for how to install manually if you are using a Galaxy Nexus bought from the Google Play store.
Who's being left out
While announcing that Android 4.2's programming code was being released to the Android Open-Source Project, Google rep Jean-Baptiste Queru said "There is no support for 4.2 on Nexus S and Xoom." The Nexus S was a Nexus smartphone released about two years ago, in late 2010, while the Motorola Xoom was the first tablet released (in early 2011) running the Honeycomb version of Android. The Xoom was not an official Nexus device, but was also made in close partnership with Google, and showcased the latest Android software.
Both devices received upgrades to Android 4.1, the first Jelly Bean version. It looks like this is where the upgrade train ends for them, though, after almost two years of support. In contrast, Apple's iPhone 3GS, released in mid-2009, just recently received an upgrade to the latest version of iOS.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.