Android Central

Stronger text and improved kerning in the new version of Jelly Bean

Do things look a bit ... different ... since upgrading your Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 7 to Android 4.2? Turns out there's one change in the new version of Android that hasn't been documented at all until now. In the new version of Jelly Bean, Google's made some very subtle, but sweeping tweaks to the way text is rendered throughout the OS.

If you look closely at our animated GIF above, you'll see that text in 4.2 is slightly bolder with smoother edges and improved kerning (letter spacing). This applies throughout the UI, in emails, web pages and other applications.

We've spotted Google's new text rendering stuff on the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7, so it looks like it's a system-wide change, rather than a graphics tweak tied to any particular hardware. On the whole, this makes for slightly clearer on-screen text that's a little more pleasing to the eye. (And the improved kerning is sure to keep design geeks happy, too.)

We've got another GIF showing the differences in text rendering in 4.2 after the break.

Are there any other little tweaks you've noticed in 4.2? Let us know in the comments.



Reader comments

Yes, text does look a bit different in Android 4.2


The dock icons are a bit smaller now too, on the Nexus 7 at least. I'm not particularly fond of it right now, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

was just about to say this. Not a fan of that. Also not a fan of the settings pulldown on the N7. My fingers are always on the right side and now that automatically pulls down settings and the left side pulls down notifications. HATE that.

I have to agree. I would much rather have the phone notification pane with the settings button or 2 finger swipe.

I'm with you guys on both points. I've been accustomed to holding my N7 with my left hand and scrolling notifications down with my right. It's slightly jarring but hopefully will just take time to adjust to. The smaller dock icons is just an unnecessary change though.

Yep not liking the notification shade...always pulling down the quick settings instead... Wish they kept it like the phone version where 2 finger swipe brings down the quick happens pretty much 9 out 10 times for me as I hold the n7 with my left hand and navigate with my right and its becoming really annoying that i hate surprised there isn't an option to turn it off...what's worse is that its not even quick toggoes ie tapping the WiFi or Bluetooth icon does not turn it on but just takes you into the each setting...

If you don't like the dock icon size, try a different launcher? I can only speak for ADW now since I haven't used anything else in I don't know how long, but you can adjust icon sizes in settings.

People in Korea have noted that the default font for Korean has while it's only some tweaking for the English font, maybe different languages, like Korean, might have seen an overall font change.

예, 우리는 알고 있습니다 ... 그이 문서가 작성된 왜 모든 이유이다. 여러분이 영어로 작성된 웹 페이지에 한국어로 작성하는 이유 그렇고 ...

I did, 5 seconds later.. it is just a few lines below. Not sure what the punctuation in that translation is supposed to represent? You can notice both of my posts were at 1513.

I believe that the Sprint version is also a different build. As far as I know, only the versions of the Galaxy Nexus bought directly from the Play Store have an OTA available. Sprint and Verizon specific versions both will need ported ROMS made by developers, otherwise it will probably be weeks or months for a carrier OTA. Even the GSM versions bought through AT&T and T-Mobile are not covered by this OTA yet.

In the 2nd Gif, 4.2 looks worse to my eyes. I prefer the cleaner fall off (the pixels outside the actual letter are darker on 4.1). But that is just from looking at the Gif

if you change english usa in google now settings to any other english option, the voice command check box/setting disappears making voice on google now non functioning. Could be my guinness enhanced imagination playing tricks, but thats my contribution

i had swiftkey installed and set as default prior to the update on my GNexus. after the update i had to reinstall and setup swiftkey to get it back as my default keyboard.

another thing that's different. Enabling developers options...
Imagine... You need to go in settings ---> about the phone ---> Build number and press 7 times to make the developers options to appear...
Talk about a new feature!!! lol

I couldn't find the way back... As I understand, once you have a developer phone, it can't go back...

the only other "little tweak" google has done that i have noticed is the faster screen off animation on the phones, and the slow fade out screen animation on my Nexus 7.

overall I dig 4.2, but there are things (lock screen altogether) i could live without.

Were the tab headers bold in chrome before 4.2 or is that new too? I don't remember it that way on the Nexus 7 running 4.1.2.

The lock screen widgets are not as revolutionary as I thought. And is anyone else annoyed by them bolding the hour but not the minutes?

Yes I installed it.
But the real thing is gonna come when you'll see what the rom developers will able to do with this update.
In the last year I became an absolute followers of rom developers like AOKP or Cyanogen mod... If you wanna play the real things, it's the way to go...
That was my 3 cents...

not sure if this was mentioned but on my nexus 7, the bottom home screen buttons have been shrunk

Couple of annoying UX/UI changes:

1.The lockscreen widgets are always highlighted.
2.The Google Now button in the homescreen is really annoying being separated from the circle!
3.The Widgets on the lock screen are always active. That's quite annoying being able to move them.
4.The new settings on the nexus 7 is really annoying. Swiping on the right to get it is just wrong!
5.The new text rendering system is bad. Makes every font looks chunky. Before they were soft and gental to my eyes.
6.The bold/highlated/ hours on the clock are just really annoying.
7. The kerning in the clock is wrong! for example: 1 5:30
8.I like the new clock design but it's completely different from the rest of the UI in the system.

what do you think?
Does anyone know if there is a feedback e-mail so i can write to the Android Team directly?


The one big change i noticed is that it seems to handle bluetooth touch devices differently.
I have an apple track pad, and in 4.1 i was able to use it with 5 point touch, things like gestures just worked. The mouse pointers were 5 circles.
Now i have a traditional arrow mouse cursor and gestures no longer work.
anyone else notice this?

I haven't seen anyone mention this yet, but there is a change to the recent apps menu. When you hit the recent apps button in 4.2, the current app now zooms down to the bottom of the recent apps list. In 4.1, the current app was not listed in the recent apps.

Bluetooth internet tethering now takes another step as of Gnexus 4.2. Enable Bluetooth, see pre-paired devices, single click on on and...Nothing! User must click the properties to the right EVERY TIME and check internet tethering. I frequently connect via both BT and via WiFi. So for me, I need to perform these operations in as few steps as possible. For this feature, 4.2 is a regression.

Arghhhh! I just typed a list of items, touched backspace once to correct spelling, and the entire entry was wiped! I am...disgusted, and don't know how or to whom to vent! I am currently using the stock GNexus 4.2's keyboard, so it's either a keyboard 'feature', or a system wipe-it shortcut that's gone haywire!

I am bothered, a lot, about the clock & lock screen changes. Besides the very poor taste in BOLDing the hours, the layout change is less appealing. I used it during the 4.1.1 & 41.2versions as a travel alarm clock. The calm appearance, simple alarm selections, one tap dim for backlight - it all just 'worked' for me. Now it's simply an eyesore. I want the 4.1.2 clock & lock screen EXACTLY as it was in 4.1.2. Would it be possible for someone to create an .Apk, or .zip to flash in via CWM to displace the 4.2 clock and lock screen with it's predecessor?

I agree with everything said above: there is no change in 4.2 so far that I do not hate. I am going to have to root the device so I can go back to 4.1

Horrible clock on the lock screen, pointless changes to the UI, new kerning and antialiasing that I don't like at all (with no option to revert to previous settings), plus bugs like the missing month of December (, Firefox crashes, Facebook looks uglier (something with colour rendering), and a long etc.

This is the last time I update without checking the forums first.

iI can get used to all the issues but wanted the pull down settings to be widgets and not just links to the settings. iI want to turn things like Wi-Fi on and off without switching applications.