Google failed to announce a new Android update at Google I/O 2013, leaving Android owners wondering when the next major, or semi-major, Android update would arrive. Thus far, signs point to the next Android update being an incremental Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update rather than a massive Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie update. Here, we take a close look at what to expect from Android 4.3.
Rumors in the build up to Google I/O 2013 in May suggested that Google would introducing a new Android update on stage as it had done at Google I/O 2012 with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The update was thought to be Android 4.3 and not Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie. For better or worse, the Android 4.3 update and Android 5.0 update both skipped this year’s developer conference leaving Android owners without a significant update a year after the arrival of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
That isn’t expected to change any time soon though it appears that Google is indeed gearing up to release a new Android update for its smartphone and tablet owners.
Since Google I/O, rumors of an Android 4.3 have been running rampant, culminating with a full on leak of the software which emerged just a few short days ago. Despite the leak, Google remains completely tight lipped about the update and official information in regards to the software are non-existent. That doesn’t mean that a clear picture of the update hasn’t been painted though.
In fact, we know more about the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean than we ever have and while it’s a small update, it’s shaping up to be a lot nicer than previously thought.
With Android 4.3 likely on the way soon, it’s now time to take a close, in-depth look at what to expect from Google’s upcoming Jelly Bean update including the Android 4.3 release date and the features that may be on board when it finally does arrive.
Android 4.3 Release Date in July
At this point, an Android 4.3 Jelly Bean release date is looking all but certain to land in July. Two reliable sources, SamMobile and @LLabTooFeR, have both agreed that the update will arrive for the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition and HTC One Google Edition in July, and given the leak, it’s clear that Google is making progress with its new software.
Exactly when Google plans to release Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is unclear and typically, it doesn’t announce official release dates unless its announcing new products. Fortunately, there are rumors floating around about a Nexus 7 2 and if Google does indeed announce a new Nexus 7 tablet in the near future, we should see an Android 4.3 release date land in that same announcement.
At this point though, owners of Android smartphones and tablets should expect a July release date for Android 4.3.
Nexus 7 2
It’s looking increasingly likely that Google is going to be releasing a new Nexus 7 tablet alongside its Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update. In 2012, the company released the Nexus 7 with Android 4.1, so this is a move that makes a lot of sense. Rumors have suggested that the device will have Android 4.3 on board and they have suggested that a launch will come sometime in July.
Other Nexus 7 2 features are said to include a 7-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor, 5MP rear camera, LTE support and a front-facing camera for video chatting. All of this makes sense given the previous Nexus 7.
The device is thought to be the K009 tablet from Asus that recently passed through the FCC, with hints of a Nexus name, and more recently, Asus customer support has begun chatting on about the device, a sign that something could be close.
Google likes to accompany its hardware with new software so at this point, expect an Android 4.3 release alongside the release of the new Nexus 7 2.
Nexus Devices Get It First
As is the case with all Android updates, owners of Nexus devices should expect to get the update first. While we still don’t have a full rundown of the devices that will get the update, Nexus 4, Nexus 10 and Nexus 7 owners are definitely going to be first in line and from the looks of things, they will likely be joined by owners of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Editions.
Typically, Google will release the updates within a few days of its initial release. Once it’s released, Nexus owners should be able to download and install the software directly from Google. Those who aren’t as well-versed in the art of manual installation can simply wait for the OTA (Over-the-Air) update that generally follows the initial roll out.
As we’ve seen, even with Nexus devices, the OTAs can take several days to complete so Nexus owners who don’t see the software on day one will want to remain patient.
Verizon Galaxy Nexus Will Be Far Behind
While many Nexus-branded smartphones and tablets will receive their Android 4.3 update within the first few days of its arrival, there are other Nexus branded devices that will likely have to wait substantially longer.
In particular, the Verizon Galaxy Nexus will likely be several weeks behind the pack and likely several weeks behind the Sprint Galaxy Nexus as well. Sprint has done a fairly decent job of getting its device upgraded though Verizon continues to lag behind.
It’s entirely possible that Verizon will clean up its act but at this point, owners should expect to be let down with the timing, just as they have been with every Android update that has rolled out since its December 2011 debut.
Galaxy S4 Will Likely Be First Big Name to Android 4.3
Nexus devices will be first to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but what about non-Nexus devices? Well, there is still no information available in regards to release dates but it’s easy to make an educated guess based on the information at hand and past developments.
With Android 4.1, Samsung moved quickly to get its Samsung Galaxy S3 updated, becoming one of the first companies to get one of its devices upgraded to the new software from Android 4.0. We expect the same with the Android 4.3 update as the Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the only devices on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean meaning, Samsung should have an easier upgrade path than most.
It’s possible that Asus will beat Samsung to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with upgrades to its Transformer tablets but consumers should expect the Galaxy S4 to be the first big name device to receive the update.
Bug Fixes & Bugs
It’s no secret that Nexus owners, particularly those with the Nexus 7, are dealing with a number of bugs. While Android 4.2.2 and manual fixes took care of some of them, there are a few that still linger including performance issues and slow charging on the Nexus 7. Owners should expect Android 4.3 to iron out at least some of the issues that Android 4.2 Jelly Bean brought with it. Owners should also expect the software to bring some of its own bugs as well.
Remember, despite being marketed to consumers, the Nexus name means that these are devices aimed at developers and that means that the software that arrives typically has some issues, at least at the start.
Over time, Google irons those issues out and many months later, devices not called Nexus receive versions of the update that are far less plagued. So while Android 4.3 is still Jelly Bean, we do expect there to be some bumps that come along with it.
Android 4.3 Features
Android 4.3 isn’t shaping up to be a massive, game-changing update for Android device owners. Instead, it’s looking like it will deliver a few features in an attempt to hold owners over until the arrival of the bigger Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie update later on this year.
Initially, Android 4.3 appeared to be extremely small but thanks to the leak, we now know that there are more than one or two changes that will be on board the software when it arrives.
Always Scanning Wi-Fi
An APK tear down by Android Police revealed some new changes that will be coming with Android 4.3, changes that weren’t known before the Galaxy S4 Nexus leak.
The first is the apparent inclusion of Always Scanning Wi-Fi which means that the default will have a device always scanning for a Wi-Fi connection to supposedly “improve location accuracy and for other purposes.” It’s not clear what those other purposes are, though they could be nefarious in nature, at least in the opinion of some users.
It appears that this feature can be turned off though if it doesn’t absolutely kill battery life, this could be a useful feature for those that find themselves shifting between Wi-Fi connections.
One thing that we’ve known about for a while, as far as Android 4.3 features are concerned, is the arrival of Bluetooth Light Energy, a feature that should have avid Bluetooth users excited.
By including Bluetooth LE with Android 4.3, we should see improved battery life when devices are connected to Bluetooth.
For those font lovers out there, Google appears to have tweaked the familiar Roboto font inside Android 4.3. Android Police has a great tear down of the changes which include various tweaks to Android’s font.
Tweaked Camera App
One of the biggest gripes of vanilla Android is the stock camera app. Camera apps from Samsung and HTC simply blow it away in terms of features and design. And while the new camera app in Android 4.3 isn’t a huge overhaul it does feature a shutter control that is now toggled with the volume rocker and a newly placed settings button.
It’s not a massive overhaul but these two tweaks are a nice gesture.
And finally, it appears that Google has left the door open for new Notification functionality in regards to third party applications.
As noted by Android Police, a string found in Android 4.3 says this:
%1$s will be able to read all notifications posted by the system or any installed app, which may include personal information such as contact names and the text of messages sent to you. It will also be able to dismiss these notifications or touch action buttons within them.
This is thought to mean that third party applications could replicate the actions of the Notification Bar. Translation: A lot more customization than what is already in place and something perfect for say, a wearable device like an Android powered watch.