Earlier this month, Google released the long awaited successor to the Nexus 4, dubbed Nexus 5, a device that has come to challenge the likes of the iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One for supremacy. And with the Nexus 5 launch came the launch of a new Android update, Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest and greatest from Google. Many Nexus 5 owners are content with the software they have now, however, others are likely looking ahead to the future, to the what comes after Android 4.4 KitKat.
Last year Google announced, and released, the Nexus 4 alongside the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update. And to the surprise of no one, Google decided to replace the Nexus 4 and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with newer hardware and improved software. It just took awhile.
In July, we saw the arrival of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean alongside the Nexus 7 tablet. Google loves to release new software alongside new hardware so this wasn’t shocking to see. It also pointed to the arrival of Google’s yearly Nexus smartphone later in the year. Sure enough, a few weeks later, Google announced Android 4.4 KitKat, the successor to Android 4.3, and abruptly discontinued the Nexus 4. Rumors of a Nexus 5 began to gain steam.
In late October, Google revealed the LG-made Nexus 5 to the world, alongside the Android 4.4 KitKat update. And just a few short days later, the Nexus 5 emerged onto shelves to a sell out. The device has slowly made its way back into the Google Play Store but it figures to be a hot commodity into 2014 thanks to stellar hardware and a cheap price tag.
Nexus 5 users are among the first with Android 4.4 KitKat, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t thinking about what’s next, not with 2014 just around the corner. As the Nexus 5 gets older, so will the anticipation for Google’s next piece of software and here, we take a look at what Nexus 5 users should expect from the future, after Android 4.4 KitKat.
At Least One Smaller Update
Strangely enough, we haven’t heard about any major Android 4.4 KitKat bugs on board the Nexus 5. We say strange because typically, Nexus devices are riddled with software issues. Of course, just because we aren’t hearing a chorus of boos, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any issues on board the Nexus 5. Often, it takes a few weeks, or even months for problems to show themselves. Deteriorating battery life, Wi-Fi issues, apps breaking, and more don’t always show their faces over night. It can often take some time.
That said, Nexus 5 owners should expect an incremental Android 4.4 KitKat upgrade to roll out between now and the release of the next Android update. Whether it’s a bug fix update to tackle lingering issues, an update that tweaks some features on board, or something else, we can’t be sure. However, we’d be shocked if Google’s only Nexus 5 Android 4.4 update was the update that arrived stock.
We could hear about the update ahead of time but that isn’t guaranteed. Google’s incremental Android roll outs typically take place on random days at random times. All we can say is that Nexus 5 owners should expect a new piece of software to arrive within the next couple of months. And our hope is that it doesn’t break what appears to be a smooth experience for most.
At Least One Major Android Update in 2014
It used to be that Google would release one major Android update per year. Of course, that was before it got into the tablet game. Nowadays, Google releases a Nexus tablet in the summer before releasing a Nexus smartphone later in the year. It’s a pattern that has repeated itself and could repeat itself again during the next year.
At this point, Nexus 5 owners should expect at least one major Android update from Google. It’s hard to predict given the lack of rumors and the fact that Google continues to evolve, so it’s possible that we could see change. However, its current release pattern has worked out well and led to a very stable, very useful piece of software in Android 4.4 KitKat. Those incremental Android Jelly Bean updates paid off it seems.
So, we wouldn’t be surprised to see another KitKat upgrade, perhaps Android 4.5 KitKat, arrive in the middle of the year along with a new Nexus 7, a device that has already been rumored. After that, it should be another piece of hardware, a Nexus 6, with another Android update for the Nexus 5. We could see Google take it back down to one update per year but why mess with what’s working?
The key thing to keep in mind is this. The Nexus 5 is a new smartphone, it’s going to be the top-of-the-line Nexus smartphone for much of 2014, and that means that will get any software updates that arrive next year. Whether that’s one, or two updates, remains to be seen. Just know that the Nexus 5 will be one of the first devices to get what’s next.
More of the Same
Nexus 5 users should expect Google to stick to its roots when it comes to next year’s Android upgrade process. That means that we expect the first Nexus 5 Android update roll out to look something like this:
- Early rumors point to a few possible, but vague features.
- Rumors pick up steam around Google I/O with a possible launch on stage.
- If not Google I/O, more rumors and a launch and release in the summer.
- At the announcement, Google will give out a vague software update release date. Something like “coming soon” or rolling out in the “near future.” It will confirm the devices that will get the software.
- Factory images/binaries posted, OTA begins shortly thereafter.
- Nexus 5 owners complain about how slow the OTA is.
That is how we expect the first big Nexus 5 update process to play out and those who are on the Android train or the Nexus train for the first time will want to take note.
New Features, Enhancements & Fixes
So what about the update itself? Well, like we said, we could definitely see Google roll out another Android 4.x KitKat update this summer, followed by the release of an Android “L” update later this year, perhaps Android Licorice or Android Lollipop. Perhaps, Android “L” edition will roll out this summer, who knows.
What we do know is that the Nexus 5 will receive new features, enhancements to current features and bug fixes to shore up anything that is causing users problems, whenever the update arrives. Google’s major Android updates are always a nice blend and we expect the Nexus 5’s first big Android update to build on the foundation left behind by Android 4.4 and Android Jelly Bean.
Our hope is that Google continues to improve Google Now and continues tweaking some of the other stock applications for the better. The new dialer inside Android 4.4 KitKat, in our opinion, is a vast improvement. So at the very least, expect all of those. At best, we could see Google roll out a redesigned piece of software but we consider that to be unlikely given its quest to incrementally improve what it already has.
Remember, it took many years for Apple to completely redesign iOS and we saw Google take a huge leap with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean not too long ago.
While the Nexus 5’s next major Android update will certainly bring new features, enhancements and fixes, it will likely also break stuff. Yes, the Android 4.4 KitKat update is the most stable that we’ve seen in some time but that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. We’ve seen bugs and users are seeing bugs. That said, we could see Android 4.x or Android x.x break things on the Nexus 5.
In fact, we expect it to. Very rarely does a piece of software emerge without any issues. Apple’s iOS updates always bring some problems, Microsoft’s Windows Phone updates, the same deal. So Nexus 5 owners will want to head into 2014, knowing that the next Android update could potentially hamper the current experience.
We always recommend waiting a few days to gauge an update so mark these words: Proceed with caution once the next Android update roll out begins for the Nexus 5.