Android 4.4.3 KitKat Update: What Nexus Users Can Expect

With the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update release winding down, Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 5, and Nexus 10 users are looking toward the future. Because Google does not announce upgrades well in advance, users are in the dark about what’s next. Here, we take a look at what we think might happen with any Android 4.4.3 KitKat update that Google decides to roll out.

In September, Google announced Android 4.4 KitKat, an update that was originally thought to be called Key Lime Pie. In fact, it was, until Google struck up a partnership with Nestle to roll out the candy-based name. In October, after a month of rumor and speculation, the Android 4.4 KitKat update was detailed alongside the Nexus 5. And weeks later, it began to roll out to Nexus owners.

Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 10, and Nexus 7 users were all given Android 4.4 KitKat updates while the Galaxy Nexus, Google’s former flagship, was left behind on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. The updates brought new features to Nexus owners but as we’ve pointed out several times, they also brought some issues along with them as well.

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Since the release of Android 4.4 KitKat, Nexus owners have been dealing with problems, enough problems, that Google saw it fit to roll out bug fix updates to try and squash them. Earlier this month, Google pushed out Android 4.4.1 KitKat, the first major update to Android 4.4 and an update that not only worked to improve the Nexus 5 camera but tackle some of the issues on board Nexus devices. Those issues included a problem with cellular signal after using SMS, a bug with Exchange and battery drain, a Nexus 4 dialer issue, and more.

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Just a few days after the arrival of Android 4.4.1, Google pushed out Android 4.4.2 KitKat to replace it. The update is nearly identical to Android 4.4.2 KitKat. While Android 4.4.2 seems to have fixed at least some of the issues that Nexus owners are dealing with, there are Nexus owners who are still struggling with problems. And its those owners, and those who are simply curious, who are wondering about what’s next.

The what’s next for Nexus users on Android 4.4 KitKat could be Android 4.4.3 KitKat, and here, we take a look at what we would expect from such an update, should it arrive in the future.

Android 4.4.3 KitKat Update Release That Isn’t Close

Google tends to keep Nexus owners in the dark about future incremental updates. The closest users will get is either a confirmation of a bug fix update on Google’s product forums or from Google itself, if the update introduces something big like the Android 4.4.1 update did. Thus far, we haven’t seen any confirmations, only that Google is investigating issues.

This means that Nexus owners, including us, are in the dark about what’s going to come next. Those who are dealing with issues are likely hoping that Android 4.4.3 KitKat is next and that it will roll out soon to tackle the remaining issues inside Android 4.4 KitKat. And while that’s possible, we highly doubt that Android 4.4.3 is going to roll out in the near future.

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First, Android 4.4.2 KitKat is still rolling out. It’s currently hitting Google Play Edition devices and likely will be for the next week or so. We doubt Google would fire up another update so close to these roll outs and the completion of the Nexus roll outs.

Second, we haven’t seen the usual chatter that emerges ahead of a roll out. In the case of Android 4.4.2, noted HTC developer LLabTooFeR, said that an Android 4.4.2 update was close.

Third, we typically see Android updates pick up speed in our server logs. Prior to the release of Android 4.4.2, we saw an uptick in activity from Nexus devices. Right now, while we’re seeing Android 4.4.3 KitKat appear, it’s not frequent and we aren’t seeing specific devices. In our mind, that’s a sign that nothing is imminent.

The holidays might also play a part as well. Engineers, like normal people, will be taking off for the holidays and as we march closer towards Christmas and the New Year, the likelihood of an Android 4.4.3 KitKat update in 2013 decreases.

We’re also not seeing hero-type bugs. There are still complaints about all versions of Android 4.4 KitKat, but nothing that is so widespread that Google’s hand is forced. Unless that happens, Google will likely take its time with the next Android 4.4 KitKat update.

With all of that in mind, we expect Android 4.4.3 update, if there is an Android 4.4.3 KitKat update, to roll out in 2014, not 2013.

Familiar Roll Out

When and if Android 4.4.3 KitKat does roll out, expect it to roll out in the all too familiar Google-style. That means either a quick announcement or no announcement at all. That means a roll out to all Nexus devices within a few hours or each other, typically we see the updates start on the same day. That means a slow roll out process that forces some users to endure for a week or more.

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That means a manual installation method that will be available ahead of the OTA. And that means Nexus users using the Google Framework Services “trick” to try and force the update and then writing in after they use the “trick” to complain about issues. (For those that went that route, you can’t say that we didn’t warn you ahead of time.)

After that, we should see the Google Play Edition devices get their updates, that means the Galaxy S4, HTC One, LG G Pad 8.3, and Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Their updates are typically days after the Nexus roll outs. They won’t land on the same day.

Fixes

What about possible Android 4.4.3 features? Well, if an update does roll out, we expect it to be focused in on tackling the remaining complaints about Android 4.4. There aren’t a ton, but enough to warrant a bug fixer, at least in our estimation. Any update that rolls out between now, and the next big Android update for Nexus devices, will have fixes on board. It’s as simple as that.

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Given that this is a software update for mobile devices, it will likely help but it may also hurt as well.

Issues

An Android 4.4.3 KitKat update would surely fix at least some of the issues that Nexus owners are detailing. However, because this is a software update and an update for Nexus devices at that, we would expect it to have issues of its own on board as well. Whether they are issues carried over from previous versions of Android KitKat or new issues, remains to be seen. But we expect there to be problems on board any update that we see between now and the release of whatever follows up Android 4.4.