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Nexus 4 Android 4.4 KitKat Update Won’t Bring Full Nexus 5 Experience

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The Nexus 4 Android 4.4 KitKat update is still a few weeks out, but we already know that Android 4.4 on the Nexus 4 will fall short of the experience on the Nexus 5.

The feature which, Matias Duarte, director of Android design calls, “the single most exciting thing for Nexus 5,” will not come to the Nexus 4 with the initial Android 4.4 update.

Android 4.4 on the Nexus 5 includes a new Google Now infused launcher that offers faster access to the Google Now service with an “Ok Google” phrase and with a swipe to the left home screen which is actually Google Now instead of a place for widgets and apps to sit.

Read: Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 Android 4.4 Update – What You Need to Know

In Google’s Android 4.4 Quick Start Guide the company specifically calls out the new Android 4.4 home screen for the Nexus 5 saying, “The Home screens on Nexus 5 work differently from Home screens on the other Nexus devices.”  Originally we thought this was simply a nod to the fact that the Nexus 5 was first to get the faster access to Google Now, but that isn’t the case.

Here is the Nexus 5 Android 4.4 launcher which users can install with three files on the Nexus 4.

Here is the Nexus 5 Android 4.4 launcher which users can install with three files on the Nexus 4.

The Verge writes, “the new Launcher on the Nexus 5 is exclusive to the phone — though the company may change its mind and offer it for the Nexus 4 and perhaps even put it on the Play store someday.”

To be clear there doesn’t appear to be any specific hardware or technological hurdle in the way of the new Google Now launcher coming to the Nexus 4 with Android 4.4, only an arbitrary decision by Google to keep the launcher confined to the Nexus 5.

A leaked Android 4.4 KitKat launcher is available to install with three files for any Android phone, including the Nexus 4. We’ve installed the Android 4.4 KitKat launcher on the Nexus 4, and while this DIY version is not 100%, it is a sign that technology is not holding back this part of the Android 4.4 Nexus 4 update.

The Nexus line of smartphones are best known for fast updates that bring the new features from the latest versions of Android to older devices. With Android 4.4 and the Nexus 5 we see a different approach, segmenting the best new features for the Nexus 5 and cutting off support for the fairly recent Galaxy Nexus smartphone that Google released in 2012.

Google promised the Nexus 4 Android 4.4 update will arrive in a few weeks, and the Android 4.4 Nexus 7 update should also arrive in a similar time. With the exclusive Nexus 5 feature skipping the Nexus 5, it seems unlikely that it will arrive on the Nexus 7 either.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

17 Comments

  1. egrht4th4nyn

    11/06/2013 at 2:45 pm

    errr… I have a Nexus 5 KitKat port on my Nexus 4 and it works fine. Even “OK, Google” works – no reason why it wouldn’t…

    • hal

      11/07/2013 at 10:43 am

      Hi , why ohh why would Google do such a thing. The reason I have nexus 4 and 7 is mainly because I was promised Google update without its or buts from mobile phone operatos . I really think Google should think again about this move. It’s not fair .

      • Mike

        11/07/2013 at 1:12 pm

        it’s exactly what apple did with limiting iOS features to new devices and the android fanboys RIPPED THEM TO SHREDS over it. For shame, google. For shame. I might just head back over to apple, at least iOS is stable enough to not crash/need reboot once a day or more.

      • Dasith Sean Wijesiriwardena

        11/07/2013 at 2:54 pm

        you get the latest OS. You don’t get the launcher yet because they want to see how people react to it before releasing for other phones.

    • invers137

      11/08/2013 at 9:17 am

      Yeah, I have the same ported ROM installed and it is freakin’ awsome!

  2. Jason

    11/06/2013 at 3:40 pm

    Your last sentence needs to be corrected. It says “With the exclusive Nexus 5 feature skipping the Nexus 5, it seems unlikely that it will arrive on the Nexus 7 either.” I believe you mena “exclusive Nexus 5 Feature Skipping the Nexus 4″

  3. Upset Nexus Owner

    11/07/2013 at 12:08 pm

    This is a total reversal of that the Nexus platform stands for….Nexus devices were promised full updates from Google. This is a slap in the face to people that purchased the device. Google you need to rethink this and do what you promised the people.

  4. judah hoag

    11/07/2013 at 1:02 pm

    Everything I have seen since the launch of N5(starting with the immediate removal of the N4), shows the downplaying of the N4 as fully relevant and capable device. They seem to want the N4 to just go away so that they can focus on the latest and greatest.

  5. Jack Johnson

    11/07/2013 at 8:58 pm

    The ba$tards :-/

  6. Another upset nexus owner

    11/08/2013 at 10:25 am

    This sucks, Only reason we have buy nexus is promise of updates. It is very early to bid goodbye to nexus 4

  7. Pavel

    11/08/2013 at 11:55 am

    Fu€king ba$tards from google, i bought nx4 in case of fast updates, not freakin cuted updates, thats not fair, thats not fu€king fair

    • hal

      11/08/2013 at 12:41 pm

      Is seem like Google like us to think that we are old customers and have no need to our REPEAT BUSINESS anymore. Any good business minded person will keep the curent customers happy or will lose them and potential customers too. I would not recommend buying a nexus anymore. Ohh I have bought 2 nexus 4 and a nexus 7 this year. Sham on you Google.

  8. SimplyDope

    11/08/2013 at 1:02 pm

    I totally bought a Nexus 4 a month and a half before the price cuts (paid full price) with the hopes that it would be supported with whatever update the N5 received. Hopefully this is the case or else I’ll be pretty choked :(

  9. david2293

    11/09/2013 at 2:45 am

    People, people… Think before you comment. It’s just the launcher you will be missing from your phone for the time beign. Google just want to see if the people like the new launcher enough to place it on other devices. By the way you can download that launcher easily ( http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2506488 ) , and guess what? I’m running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean(!) and it works totally fine, the “OK Google” feature too (you just have to set your language to US English). :)

  10. Matt

    11/10/2013 at 6:07 am

    Come on Google stop moving goalposts! No more promised land!

  11. Ashish Singh

    11/21/2013 at 2:46 pm

    I really hope Google changes its mind and gives the same kitkat update with all the features present in Nexus 5 to the Nexus 4 users like me.

  12. TechJunkie

    11/28/2013 at 8:14 am

    With all the good that comes with Kit Kat there is also bad. The new dialer sucks. Hangouts isn’t bad, but I prefer the old simplistic sms app. Maps is forced to version 7 which is terrible for anyone using navigation. Flash is now 100% dead meaning sideloading no longer works. And on the Nexus 10 the settings menu has been nerfed. These changes, despite the other improvements in 4.4, made me decide to reinstall 4.3 (it’s nice just to have this option). The removal of api’s required for flash is understandable given adobe’s lack of support, but I like to actually view the web as it was intended. And as for the new google apps in 4.4, I have to ask who is in charge of their new UI’s because they are terrible. Google keeps taking steps back from there own products. Fortunately the best part of the 5, as mentioned above, can simply be sideloaded on any device 4.1+. GNex users may not get the option for 4.4, but at least they can get the Launcher.

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