Samsung Galaxy S III Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Update Starts Hitting Europe — “Gradually” Heading To Other Markets

Samsung has begun rolling out Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) to its Galaxy S III smartphone in Europe — which could mean the handset is the first non-Nexus Android phone to get updated to Android 4.1.

Galaxy S III owners in Poland are first in the queue for the Jelly Bean update which began rolling out there today. Samsung confirmed the update in a statement, adding that it will be “gradually introduced to other markets” — with no further details on specific markets and timeframes.

“The availability and schedule of the software upgrade will vary by market and wireless carriers’ requirements,” the statement adds — a stock warning to expect some carrier foot-dragging.  The Google-branded Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the Nexus S were due Jelly Bean updates in mid-July, along with the Motorola Xoom and Nexus 7 tablets — although that mid-July timeframe hasn’t always been stuck to. For instance Engadget just reported it took until two days ago for the Verizon-branded Galaxy Nexus to finally get its payload of Jelly Beans.

The Android 4.1 update brings a raft of improvements and new features to the S III, including real-time reminders and recommendations from Google Now, plus speed and responsiveness boosts thanks to OS additions such as triple buffering in the graphics pipeline, and enforced consistent frame-rate for all drawing and animations. Android 4.1 also makes educated guesses about where your fingers are heading as you swipe and flick the screen to improve responsiveness.

In addition to the changes wrought by Android 4.1, Samsung is updating some of its software on the S III — including adding the ability to resize the Pop Up Play video window. Here’s the full list of new Samsung software features:

  • With the Easy Mode, users can find 5 large Easy widgets on the home screen which allow quick and easy access to the frequently used applications. The Easy widgets include both 4×2 and 4×4 arrangements of Favorite contacts, Favorite apps, Favorite settings, and Clock and Alarm.
  • Blocking Mode adds extra convenience, enabling users to block incoming calls, notifications, alarms and LED indicators for a designated period of time.
  • A pause function is added to the camera, so users can record a continuous video while only capturing the moments they want; just like on a video camera, the recording can easily be stopped and resumed.
  • Users now can place the upgraded ‘Pop up play’ to watch a video anywhere on the phone’s screen while running other apps, and can change the size of the player window.

Samsung is already lining up a new Android 4.1 device coming to Europe in October, and the U.S. in November — the Galaxy Note II — so it makes sense for the company to get Jelly Bean onto its other flagship handset, the S III, without serious delay. The Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) update to Samsung’s 2011 flagship phone, the Galaxy S II, took months to arrive so it’s also likely Samsung is keen for the update process to run more smoothly this time around.

Samsung also confirmed Jelly Bean will be coming to additional devices “soon” — here’s the full list:

Following soon will be Jelly Bean upgrades for GALAXY Tab 2 7.0 & 10.1, GALAXY Note 10.1, GALAXY SII, GALAXY Note, GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus, GALAXY S Advance, GALAXY SII LTE, GALAXY Music, GALAXY Chat, GALAXY Ace 2, GALAXY Beam, GALAXY Ace Plus, GALAXY mini II and GALAXY S DUOS.