Yesterday, when I woke up, the Android 3.2 update that was supposed to roll out last week (and was pulled due to problems, like bricking and broken IMAP) was ready and waiting to be installed. With a full charge on my battery (and a USB cable nearby) I allowed the installation. When it was completed, I allowed the tablet to restart and — with fingers crossed — waited for the reboot to complete.
The end result was pure Android goodness. If any of you are hesitating, let me tell you, it's well worth the time and effort to do the upgrade (now that they've smoothed out the problems). Why? Let me lay out the changes made by this upgrade, so you can make the final call for your own tablet device.
This enhancement makes the update worth the effort on its own. Though the Galaxy tablet was already a fairly speedy device, this update really smoothes things out. Thee are no longer any jerkey movements or hesitations when moving screens or opening apps. In fact, the tablet I've been using for some time now seems brand new.
Secondary panelFirst and foremost, you should notice a somewhat different look and feel of the main Android panel (along with a brand new "mystery" button — more on that in a moment). On the main Android panel (see Figure A), you'll notice a small arrow pointing up. Tap that button to reveal a brand new panel. Figure A
A few pleasant changes to the familiar Android panel, including clearer icons and fonts in the notification area.When the new panel opens (see Figure B), you'll be greeted with six icons:
- The new Task Manager
- World Clock
- Pen memo
- Music player
Quick access to these pop-up applications make this panel incredibly handy.What this panel does is pop up widget-like applications (see Figure C). These are tiny applications that do not take up the full screen, can be moved around (like a widget), and remain on-screen until you close them or open another app that covers the full screen. Figure C
You can only have one pop-up app on the screen at a time.
New Task ManagerWith the new update, a very easy to use (and quick to access) Task Manager is at your finger tips. From the new "pop-up panel," tap on Task Manager to open the tool and start quickly shutting down applications as needed (see Figure D). Figure D
From this window, tap the X associated with the app you want to close, and that application will no longer be held in memory.
Screenshots made easy
That "mystery button" on the panel is a button to take a screenshot of whatever is on your screen. It's about time this feature arrived! I've been so tired of having to use the Dalvak Debug Monitor for screenshots. The thing is, with this tool, you can't take countdown shots, so there might be instances where you'll have to go back to the DDM anyway.
All screenshots are saved in /Root/ScreenCapture.
This is a fairly cool new feature available in 3.2. From Settings | Motion Settings, you can do the following:
- Tilt to enlarge the screen (this only works in Gallery and Browser)
- Pan to move icons one at a time to another page
Here's how they work:Tilt to enlarge: While in either the Gallery or the Browser, touch the screen with two fingers (easiest to use each thumb), and then tilt the screen toward you to enlarge and away from you to shrink. Pan to move icons: This one is a bit trickier to get. If you long press an icon (and continue holding), you can move the tablet to the left or the right to send that icon to a new screen. The thing is, you MUST have the tablet very close to 90 degrees to the horizon for this to work. If you have the tablet tilted either backwards or forwards, it won't work.
Both of these features can be tested from within Motion Settings until you get the hang of them. Here's how:
- Open the App Drawer and tap Settings
- Tap Motion Settings
- Tap either Panning or Tilt
- Tap the play button to see a short video of how it works
- Tap the "Try" button (see Figure E) to try it out
Trying out the feature will help out much more than the videos. And with the Panning feature, you'll need to practice.
Notification PopupThe last update I want to mention is the notification popup. Not much has changed (except the overall look, as shown in Figure F), but the service buttons are now scrollable within the notification popup menu, and you can still quickly delete notifications simply by scrolling up or down and tapping the X associated with the notification you want to delete. Figure F
A much cleaner look for the notification popup makes it easier to use.
I realize that we have a much grander update coming soon (how soon is best left to rumor), but this latest update certainly is an impressive sign of what's to come.
If you've had any doubt whether you should run this upgrade on your Android tablet, now's the time. You'll feel like you're using a brand new device with better performance and some sweet new features.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.