Yesterday, in a bit of a surprise, Google began pushing out the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update to the Nexus 7, Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and Nexus 10, just a few short days after the Android 4.4.1 KitKat update began rolling out. A day later, it’s now time to take a look at the most important things to know about Android 4.4.2 KitKat, Google’s latest Android 4.4 KitKat update.
At the tail end of October, after an initial announcement in September, Google finally unveiled its latest and greatest Android update to the world. Android 4.4 KitKat emerged to replaced Android 4.3 Jelly Bean on Android smartphones and tablets and while it’s not a massive overhaul to Google’s impressive operating system, it’s still a very likeable update thanks to its enhancements and additions.
At the time, Google confirmed the update for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 and several weeks later, the update began rolling out to those devices, devices that joined the Nexus 5 as the only hardware with Android 4.4 KitKat on board. In the days after the Android 4.4 KitKat release, Nexus users began complaining about a host of issues on board Android 4.4 KitKat. The bugs were unsurprising, given that new Android software typically tortures Nexus users.
However, the bugs were significant enough that users started pleading for a brand new Android 4.4 KitKat update to solve the problems. Last week, in an effort to quell the issues, Google rolled out an Android 4.4.1 KitKat update to Nexus users, an update that it claimed would not only add camera features to the Nexus 5 but also tackle Android 4.4 KitKat bugs.
So, it came as a bit of a surprise yesterday when Google started rolling out yet another Android 4.4 KitKat update in the form of Android 4.4.2 KitKat, a brand new update for Nexus users.
With the update fresh in the minds of not only Nexus users but Android users across the globe, it’s time to take a close look at Google’s brand new Android 4.4.2 KitKat update.
Users Will Skip Android 4.4.1 KitKat
This probably goes without saying but those Nexus users who didn’t see Android 4.4.1 KitKat roll out, and there were many, will not have to update to Android 4.4.1 first before upgrading to Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Instead, Nexus devices will see the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update instead of Android 4.4.1 KitKat.
So, Nexus users should not be on the look out for Android 4.4.1 KitKat. Instead, expect Android 4.4.2 KitKat which, from the looks of things, is very similar to the Android 4.4.1 update that rolled out last week.
Android 4.4.2 KitKat Will Roll Out Slowly
Nexus users will want to refrain from mashing the “check for update” button and will instead want to remain patient during the Android 4.4.2 KitKat roll out process. As we’ve noted many, many times in the past, Google has a very specific way of rolling out its Android updates to Nexus users. Specifically, the company rolls out its updates in an extremely slow manner.
Here is how a Google engineer described the roll out process:
Rollouts are conducted in phases. Typically they start at 1% of devices for around 24 – 48 hours; we watch the return rates and resulting device checkins and error reports (if any), and make sure nothing looks wrong before sending it to more. Then typically it goes to 25%, 50%, 100% over the course of a week or two.
What the percentages mean is that when your device checks in, it has a 1% chance (for example) of being offered the OTA. If it doesn’t (randomly) get an offer, it will never get an offer until the next batch.
OW, once your device checks in and gets turned down, that’s it until the next batch. Mashing on the “check for updates” button just causes your device to check in again, and get automatically turned down again. Think about how that makes your device feel! WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE PHONES?!
That said, once the new batch does start, hitting that button does give you a new roll of the dice — but once. Since devices usually only check in for system updates every 24 hours (I think? Certainly on a many-hours basis) this can get you your shot sooner than it would happen on its own.
So, mash away. :) Just be patient, and mashing on it more often than once or twice a day isn’t going to gain you anything.
Translation: Check for the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update once or twice a day. If nothing shows up, try again the next day. Roll outs typically take about a week or two to complete. So, that means that we could, potentially, see some Nexus users waiting until next week for the upgrade to Android 4.4.2. Given how small it is though, we have to imagine that the roll out could be a little quicker.
Do Not Use the Google Framework Services “Trick”
Those who are impatient are probably going to start looking for ways to install Android 4.4.2 KitKat early, ahead of the OTA. One “trick” that they might stumble on is the Google Framework Services trick that at one time, was considered a legitimate way of forcing the update. That was until the “trick” starting causing problems for Nexus owners and Google publicly warned against it.
Those in search for an in depth explanation only need to read this response from a Google engineer who details why Nexus users should not try and force the update this way.
Doing this changes the primary ID by which Google knows your device. As far as the servers are concerned, the device was basically factory reset. There are many downstream effects of this, but a big one is that this invalidates the tokens used by any app that uses GCM (which is nearly all the Google apps, and a ton of third-party apps.)
How apps react to GCM IDs changing varies by app. With Play Store you have to log out and log back in, I think Gmail usually handles it transparently eventually but won’t get new mail notifications for a while, etc. Some apps you may have to clear data on to recover. All apps will simply stop getting GCM push-messages, until they get a new GCM ID; some do this frequently, others rarely, and some apps use the GCM ID as an ID on their own servers (as it is opaque and basically random), so other things besides push messages may not work.
Nothing bursts into flames, but it makes a ton of nuisances on the device, including some that can look pretty mysterious. Your mileage will vary depending on what apps you use.
All of this can be avoided by just doing an ‘adb sideload’ if you are impatient.
For the record, a Samsung Galaxy Nexus of ours experienced Google Play Store issues after trying to force the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update. We suggest that Nexus owners, even impatient ones, avoid this method at all costs, especially since there is a surefire way to get the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update right now.
Manual Upgrades Available
What he means by ‘adb sideload’ is the manual upgrade process that is available to Nexus users. Shortly after Android 4.4.2 KitKat was released, the files for a manual installation were discovered for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 5, and Nexus 10. Those files allow users to use the Android SDK and sideload the software ahead of the Over-the-Air update.
As always, we only recommend the manual update process to those with the know-how as there is always the potential for something to go wrong in the installation process and we can’t be responsible for any problems that emerge. Those who do wish to take the plunge will want to take a look at our how to that describes just how to get the update on board right now.
Android 4.4.2 Issues Already Being Reported
Incremental Android updates are typically aimed at fixing bugs and performance issues and the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update is no different. The Android 4.4.2 KitKat update for Nexus users should come with the same bug fixes as the Android 4.4.1 update. We have a partial change log here because Google did not post one itself.
Sprint detailed its Nexus 5 Android 4.4.2 KitKat update and suggested that these features would be on board the Android 4.4.2 KitKat upgrade:
- Fix for clearing the VM Indicator
- Fix for delivery of the VM Indicator
- Various additional software fixes
- Security enhancements
So, the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update is going to fix things for many Nexus users. However, it looks like it’s not going to fix everything. Nexus 4 users are still complaining about the same dialer problem that they were complaining about in Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Thus far, Google hasn’t responded to the complaints. We’ve also seen one use detail a number of issues with his device including an issue wherein the device doesn’t sleep when idle.
Nexus 5 users are also complaining about low call volume with headsets. This appears to be an issue that was discovered awhile ago but still hasn’t been fixed inside Android 4.4.2 KitKat. There are also various Nexus users complaining about Exchange issues that apparently still exist inside Android 4.4.2. This, according to Google, was one of the major problems that Android 4.4.1 and Android 4.4.2 were aimed at. The complaints aren’t widespread at the moment but that may be because Android 4.2.2 is so new.
Those who are running just fine on Android 4.4 or Android 4.4.1 may want to hold off on the Android 4.4.2 update until the smoke clears, just to be safe.
Who is Next to Android 4.4.2?
The last thing that users need to know is that Android 4.4.2 KitKat updates appear to be on their way to non-Nexus devices as well. Both the HTC One Google Play Edition and HTC One are rumored to be getting the Android 4.4.2 update and we imagine that the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition will get the new update as well.
Google Play Editions usually are a few weeks behind Nexus devices and with the Galaxy Nexus out of the picture, these two devices should be the next devices to Google’s latest and greatest Android KitKat update.