AT&T Galaxy S III owners: Your Jelly Bean OS update is now available

Owners of Samsung's Galaxy S III on AT&T may want to keep an eye out for an over-the-air update, which will upgrade their phones to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system.

AT&T has offered the update through Samsung's Kies desktop software since December. Although Samsung's website still says the update won't be available over the air, AT&T told Engadget that users may now download the update directly to their phones after all. Several forum posters on Android Central claim they've already received the update this way.

AT&T is the last of the four major U.S. carriers to roll out Jelly Bean for Samsung's Galaxy S III. Sprint was first in October, followed by T-Mobile in November, and Verizon Wireless in December.

Why upgrade to Jelly Bean?

The biggest new feature in Android 4.1 is Google Now, a virtual assistant that automatically brings up relevant information, such as flight statuses, upcoming restaurant reservations, boarding passes, weather forecasts, and warnings about commute traffic. The Google app also supports expanded voice searches in Android 4.1, such as the ability to say “What's this song?” or “Scan this barcode.”

Jelly Bean also includes some minor touch-ups to the Android software. The interface is smoother overall, and users can pinch and zoom on notifications to expand or collapse them. Some apps also let you take action directly from the notification bar, so for instance, text messages show an option to call back or quick reply. In addition, widgets are easier to place on the home screen, as they make room by automatically resizing or moving other items.

Galaxy S II users next?

The Galaxy S III isn't the only phone Samsung is trying to update to Jelly Bean. Earlier this week, the company said it was rolling out an Android 4.1 update for Galaxy S II users, at least in Singapore. Seeing as Samsung plans to sell a Galaxy S II Plus, which has no major improvements over the original besides Jelly Bean, it's not surprising that Samsung is trying to give original GSII owners some love. As for U.S. carriers, there's no word on when they'll offer the update, if at all.

Keep in mind that wireless carriers tend to roll out updates in waves, which allows them to shut the process down in case anything goes wrong. If you can't wait, you can try looking for the update on the phone itself (through Settings > About > Software Update), or use Samsung's Kies software to install the update using a PC.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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