I've never liked Android. It's an opinion born out of ignorance and bias: The iPhone is the only smartphone I've ever owned. I love it, and I think Android is generally an inferior mess. I'm OK with that. But wow, Jelly Bean: the greatest version of Android ever, cold-blooded Apple-killa. Thousands upon thousands of man-hours from one of the largest collections of smart people on the planet, explicitly devoted to winning over jerks like me. Shouldn't that be enough? I gave Jelly Bean an open channel into my heart, using it as my only phone for nearly a month. How'd it do?
Android 4.1, otherwise known as Jelly Bean, is meant to (finally) sweeten Google's mobile software so that it better resembles the grace of iOS. Better resembles, and maybe even beats entirely. The update's two most important features—Project Butter and Google Now—overhaul the way you talk to and feel your Android. They're clear attempts to slay Siri and play catch up with the absolutely flawless touchscreen fluidity of an iPhone. And that's perfect, on paper, because the two worst things about Android are its relative sloppiness and the expertise needed to use it. It's been a first versus third world divide.
As much as Android diehards are loathe to admit it, superficial matters. Superficial is why Apple continues to make the best smartphone in the history of the cold little things. Superficial is what you're looking at, with your eyes, almost every single day of your life. Superficial is what's going to stimulate the important sensitive zapping parts of your brain. Superficial is why Apple put so much weight (and reaped so much triumph) from something called Retina Display. Looks matter when you're constantly looking, and Android's ugly duckling software has been a fundamental hindrance since its inception. Superficial is why the iPhone is more enjoyable, on a both a gut-level and the more cerebral planes. It's been a sad gap for Google.
Not anymore. For years now, Android phones and tablets have tended toward being jittery, laggy, and jumbled. Swiping between cluttered screens earned you stutters and slips; even the simplest Google Map pinch made many phones cough. This was awful, and given the state of the art, bizarre. From its birth, the iPhone was able to slide things around on its screen like butter. It required of Google an entire aesthetic Manhattan Project, Project Butter, to get Android to where the iPhone has been all along. Google engineers labored to put a phone's guts in perfect sync with its screen, and ramp up the way a handset's processors render the menus we finger.