Android 4.4.3 KitKat Update: What Nexus Users Shouldn’t Expect

Thanks to today’s leak, it’s pretty clear that Google has an Android 4.4.3 KitKat update up its sleeve for its Nexus-branded devices including the Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and probably the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 as well. With an Android 4.4.3 KitKat release thought to be close, we want to offer some of our own predictions and set the stage for the next KitKat update for Nexus devices.

In November, Google not only rolled out the Android 4.4 KitKat update, it rolled out two other versions of the Android 4.4 KitKat update in the forms of Android 4.4.1 KitKat and Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Those updates landed for its Nexus devices which include the Nexus 7, Nexus 5, Nexus 4, and Nexus 10 and since then, the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update has landed for a number of non-Nexus devices as well.

Since November, Nexus 4, Nexus 10, Nexus 7, and Nexus 5 users have been complaining about a number of Android 4.4.2 KitKat problems. Many of them have been campaigning for an upgrade to Android 4.4.3 KitKat from Google. And while Google has promised fixes for certain Android 4.4.2 KitKat update issues, the company still hasn’t provided the important details.

Fortunately, leaks have done the talking for Google and this week, we’ve learned that the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update is real and that it should be landing for Nexus owners in the near future. Best of all, it looks like it’s going to be a bug fix update that’s aimed at solving at least one of the major issues on board the Nexus 5.

As we wait for Google to deliver the new KitKat update, we want to take a look at our Android 4.4.3 KitKat update expectations. Yesterday, we took at look at what we expect from the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update and today, we want to take a look at what we think Nexus users should not expect from Android 4.4.3 and its upcoming release.

Release Dates That Are Vastly Different, If At All

Do not expect the Android 4.4.3 KitKat release dates for Nexus devices to be much different from one another. With the release of Android 4.4 KitKat, we saw Google stagger the release dates for Nexus users. If you’ve owned a Nexus device before, it was probably shocking to see Google roll out the updates on different days, leaving some users waiting in the dark.

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The move was uncharacteristic and thus, it would be shocking to see Google do the same thing here with Android 4.4.3, especially since it’s likely going to be a smaller, bug fix update rather than a massive Android update. Nexus devices almost always get their updates on the same day and that’s why Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and Nexus 5 users should not be heading into the Android 4.4.3 release thinking anything different.

Early Android 4.4.3 KitKat Details from Google

This is likely going to be a bug fix update and bug fix updates typically don’t get a lot of press. It was extremely strange to see Google announce the Android 4.4.1 KitKat update for Nexus devices but we realize that it did so for a reason. It wanted to sell consumers on the new Nexus 5 ahead of the holidays. (The Android 4.4.1 KitKat update offered camera upgrades for the Nexus 5.)

Historically, Google stays silent when it comes to bug fix releases. It lets leaks do the talking and eventually, it rolls the update out on a random day during the middle of the week. Don’t expect the update to roll out on a weekend.

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At the very most, we could see Google taking to its Nexus Twitter account or scribbling a quick blog post. But even then, we wouldn’t expect the announcement to come ahead of time. Instead, a tweet or a post would likely come on the day that Android 4.4.3 arrives.

Don’t expect an HTC or Samsung-like announcement weeks or days ahead of the update’s roll out. Google is much more secretive and random when it comes to incremental Android updates.

Inability to Get Updated Early

Don’t expect to have to wait for the OTA roll out to land for your Nexus device. For veteran Nexus users, this goes without saying. But for those that may have picked up a Nexus smartphone for the first time or simply aren’t familiar with the process, there will likely be a way to manually install the update early.

Google typically rolls its updates out in stages. What this means is that some Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 5, and Nexus 10 owners will get the update on day one, but only a small percentage. Here is how Google engineer Dan Morrill explains the process and this is exactly how we see the Android 4.4.3 update release going down:

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.

IOW, 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.

Fortunately, those that don’t want to wait should be able to sideload the software. When Google pushes out an update, we’re usually able to track down the individual updates lurking on its servers. Once a file is found, Nexus users with the know-how can sideload the software. It can be tricky but it helps you bypass the OTA.

Don’t expect anything different from Android 4.4.3. After it rolls out, we expect the files to get discovered and those who wish to update early will be able to update early.

Leaks

While we’ve seen the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 Android 4.4.3 KitKat updates lurking around in testing, we don’t expect the updates to leak ahead of Google’s roll out date. This almost never happens and if it was going to happen, we would have expected it to happen this week with a release on the horizon.

Google is testing fixes fora big Nexus 5 problem that impacts battery life.

Google is testing fixes for a big Nexus 5 problem that impacts battery life.

Don’t expect to be able to upgrade to the update before Google pushes it out for Nexus devices. This isn’t a Samsung Android update roll out that we’re talking about here.

Lack of Android 4.4.3 KitKat Problems

Android 4.4.3 KitKat looks like it will be a bug fix update for Nexus smartphones and tablets but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to fix everything. We also think that there is a very good chance it will break some things of its own.

Google clearly has spent a great deal of time preparing this update. Nexus users have been clamoring for an update since November and we’ve see Google promise fixes many times over since then.

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Even if Google has been working on this update since the day that Android 4.4.1 rolled out, there is a very good chance that Android 4.4.3 KitKat will arrive with problems of its own. Problems coming with new software updates is a fact of life. It always happens. No update is ever perfect.

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Will Android 4.4.3 fix a lot of issues? We think it will. But we aren’t expecting it to be issue-free and Nexus owners will want to keep that in mind as we get closer to its release. We recommend waiting a few days for the smoke to settle before installing it. User feedback will be a godsend.

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