Android Central

The Kobo Arc has been updated to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but has it made a difference?

Flash back to our review of the Kobo Arc a moment. On the whole, the 7-inch tablet from Canada impressed, but was left lacking on the software front. Despite a Jelly Bean update in the works at launch, the Arc came to market on Ice Cream Sandwich, with the custom Tapestries UI on top. While a decent performer generally, if you've ever used Jelly Bean, going back to ICS is a tough ask. 

The Jelly Bean update for the Arc is now available though, thus removing a potential barrier to purchase. So, has it made a difference? Is the Kobo Arc now a serious contender in the tablet space? Well, we got one back in the office to take a look at how they did. 

Kobo Arc Jelly Bean video walkthrough

On the face of it, very little has changed by way of UI. And that's a good thing. Tapestries may not be everyone's bag, but for folks who already purchased an Arc, not radically changing the UI isn't going to change the experience they're used to. The big change on the visual front is that the homescreen now takes on a more Nexus feel, with the stock software buttons in the center coupled with the standard pull down notification tray from the top. We're big fans of this layout on 7-inch tablets. The older style layout left everything all cramped down there in either bottom corner, so this is definitely a score on the UI front. 

Project Butter also makes a noticeable improvement to the overall performance. Scrolling is definitely smoother, and navigating through menus and the app drawer feels snappier. Of course, another of the headline Jelly Bean features, Google Now, has also been added to the Arc with this update. 

And thats about all she wrote. There's a lot of the stock Android characteristics in here, but the general look and feel hasn't changed much at all. It's not going to confuse anyone who's already bought one, and it might well be enough to convince those who were on the fence to take a more serious look. With arguably a nicer screen than the Nexus 7, more powerful -- and front facing -- speakers and the potential of a 64GB storage option, the Kobo Arc offers fantastic value for money. Now, it has the software on board that it deserves. 


Reader comments

Hands on with the Kobo Arc Jelly Bean update


Looking at the review video I think it would not be a bad choice to purchase the Arc. The Jelly Bean is easy to use and a friendly UI. I have been using it on my phone for some time now and really love it. I'll give the Arc a try now for sure.

The update to Jellybean has definitely made the Kobo Arc better (Google+ had stopped working on it ages ago because it was so outdated). However, it's still a version behind, which means there are still loads of incompatible apps, not to mention some that are compatible but seem far more buggy on the Arc than my Nexus phone.

It is a lovely piece of hardware (it feels so much more resilient than the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire), and if you're not interested in Tapestries and Kobo integration, I'd recommend getting it and installing a new version of Android on it. Unfortunately I got it for Tapestries, so I'm stuck with the older version of Jellybean.

Wait, did you actually say that you have found incompatible apps between 4.1 and 4.2? The only ones I can think of are the ones involving the lockscreen(daydreams) which are nice but seriously?!?!

4.1, 4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.2, 4.2.1..... The are all jellybean with minor revisions, not new versions...

I am totally not interested in Kobo integration or Tapestries, so your idea of installing a new version of Android sounds ideal - but how do I go about it? I don't want to end up with an unusable tablet!

had this since Xmas. on the second one as the first had touchscreen problems playing racing games.would not input on right steer touches. the replacement does the same.Riptide,Beach buggy blitz, realracing 2,asphalt7 etc all become unplayable.the longer i have the tablet the more the lack of connectivity becomes an issue. no bluetooth,no gps,no 3g, no otg and single band wifi.this is why so many apps an incompatable.most of my apps have been sideloaded. googles ecosystem depends on connectivity making so much of Jelly bean on this tablet ineffective. i personally don't want a phone os layout on my tablet. the notification bar at the top is wasted space, the button arrangement in landscape is inefficient. the ics layout was much more natural. this is the biggest forum for kobo tablets. for me the JB update only serves to highlight what this tablet lacks. probably the best 7" screen going but not much else.