Android 4.4.3: Everything We Know About the Next KitKat Update

From the look of things, Google will roll out an Android 4.4.3 KitKat update to Nexus devices including the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 5. The Android 4.4.3 KitKat update also looks like it will serve an extremely important purpose which means that it’s an update that all Nexus owners should have their eyes on.

Last September, Google announced Android 4.4 KitKat. The company did not reveal any of its features, only that it would be coming at some point in the future. On Halloween, Google finally delivered the pertinent details when it revealed the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update alongside the Nexus 5, the current Nexus smartphone.

As expected, Google pushed the update out for its older Nexus devices as well. The Nexus 7, Nexus 5, Nexus 10, and Nexus 4 were all beneficiaries of the company’s new software update, an update that’s incremental and not a massive overhaul.

Weeks later, Google released another Android 4.4 KitKat update in the form of Android 4.4.1 KitKat, an update aimed at tackling some of Android 4.4′s bugs and improving the Nexus 5′s camera experience. A short time after that, Google pushed out Android 4.4.2, another KitKat update that brought some security fixes along with it. Android 4.4.2 KitKat is where Nexus users have remained since November and for many, that has been a problem.

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Android 4.4.2 KitKat is riddled with bugs. Nexus 5 owners are dealing with a camera issues and Nexus owners of all shapes and sizes are experiencing problems with Bluetooth. Those just the tip of the iceberg. Google has promised fixes for many of the Android 4.4.2 KitKat problems lurking for Nexus users though it still hasn’t said when or how it will deliver those remedies. Last week though, we got our answer, no thanks to Google.

Leaks point to an upcoming Android 4.4.3 KitKat update for Nexus devices. Credible rumors suggest that an Android 4.4.3 KitKat release is imminent and that it will come with a ton of bug fixes for Nexus users. Here, we take a look at everything we know so far about an update that Nexus users hope will solve their Android 4.4.2 KitKat problems.

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What We Know About Google

First, we have to start with what we know about Google itself. Google follows some distinct patterns when it comes to Android releases and there is, at the moment, no reason to believe that it will change things around with the release of Android 4.4.3.

Google typically releases Android updates during the working week rather than on the weekend. So, we know that there is a good chance that Android 4.4.3 KitKat will land during the week rather than on the weekend. We can’t say which at this point but Nexus users should stop checking their phone for an update on the weekend. It’s probably not going to happen.

The company typically rolls out its Android updates Over-the-Air. Unlike some Android updates, Google’s updates can take several weeks to deploy. Only a fraction of Nexus owners typically see the update on day one as Google works to ensure a smooth delivery. Here is how a Google engineer explained Google’s 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.

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.

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.

Edit: also, keep in mind that this isn’t first-come/first-served. You’re not racing other devices to get your slot in the current batch, or something.

Those who don’t want to wait for the OTA will likely be able to install the update manually through adb sideload. Google’s updates are typically discovered lurking about on its servers in the minutes after the release. It happens every single time Google releases an Android update. In other words, know that there is a good chance Nexus users will be able to skip the OTA and install manually.

Android 4.4.3 KitKat Release

Now, let’s get to the specifics. Android 4.4.3 KitKat update details continue to emerge but already, it looks like Android 4.4.3 leaks have all but confirmed most of the important details.

While we still don’t have a specific Android 4.4.3 KitKat release date, a specific date probably won’t pop up ahead of its release, we do have an idea about when the update might land.

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LLabTooFeR, a credible source who has been accurate with software update information in the past, said last week that the update was in testing and that it would land in one to two weeks. That means this week or next week. Mike1986, another respected source, claims that Android 4.4.3 KitKat will land soon. He isn’t as specific but we take soon to mean imminent.

Android 4.4.3 KitKat activity has picked up lately.

Android 4.4.3 KitKat activity has picked up lately.

Android 4.4.3 KitKat activity in our server logs picked up at the end of March though it has started to die down a bit. Typically, when a release is close, we’ll see a consistent flow of traffic. Regardless, it looks like there is a good chance that the update will land in April, several months after the arrival of Android 4.4.2.

Which Devices Will Get Android 4.4.3 KitKat?

Thus far, we’ve only seen the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 Android 4.4.3 KitKat updates emerge from hiding. Those updates were both discovered in testing and Android Police also leaked a screenshot that clearly shows an Android 4.4.3 KitKat test build running on Google’s Nexus 5. Those two devices will almost certainly see Android 4.4.3 KitKat.

What we haven’t seen are leaks for the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 though owners of those two devices shouldn’t be too worried. We know that Google typically releases big time bug fix updates for all of its devices. Updates that are device specific have historically been much smaller. In other words, there is a very good chance that this update will land for all Nexus devices that support Android 4.4 KitKat.

Android 4.4.3 KitKat Features

All of the evidence points to the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update being a bug fix update rather than a feature-rich update. This is what Nexus owners are after so we doubt that there will be much complaining.

LlabTooFeR claimed that the update would come with a fix for camera issues. That claim was backed up by an extensive leak from Android Police that details many of the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update’s features.

Nexus 5 Problem

According to their information, Android 4.4.3 KitKat will arrive with an extensive change log full of bug fixes for Nexus users. The update is supposedly going to come with a fix for unstable data connections, improved camera focus (this is probably what LlabTooFeR was referring to), a fix for random reboot issues, a fix for missed call LED problems, VPN fixes, an auto-connect fix for Wi-Fi, a fix for the activation screen, subtitle fixes, at least two security fixes including a patch for app shortcut problems, fix for app shortcuts, and a whole lot more.

In other words, this is going to be a massive update that appears to be directed at Android 4.4.2 KitKat problems and Android 4.4.2 KitKat problems only. In all, there are supposedly several dozen fixes for Nexus devices.

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At this point, this is everything that we know about Android 4.4.3. For Nexus users that want the details in the form of Cliff Notes, here is a basic summary:

  • Nexus 7 & Nexus 5 Android 4.4.3 KitKat updates all but confirmed, others likely.
  • Android 4.4.3 KitKat release is imminent.
  • Android 4.4.3 will feature a large amount of bug fixes for Android 4.4.2 problems.

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