For weeks, we’ve known that Google is cooking up an Android 4.4.3 KitKat update to replace the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update that landed for Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 users back in November and has emerged on other devices in the months since. And while Google still isn’t talking about the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update, rumors and leaks have painted a pretty clear picture for Android users.
Back in November, Google rolled out its Android 4.4 KitKat update for its stable of Nexus devices. Shortly after that, the company pushed out Android 4.4.2 KitKat, the third version of Android 4.4 KitKat and an update that not only arrived for Nexus users around the world but also pushed out to the company’s Google Play Edition devices.
As the months have gone on, big name devices like the Moto X, LG G2, Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, and even the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 have all received upgrades to Android 4.4.2 KitKat. However, it’s clear that Android 4.4.2 KitKat is set to be replaced by something new, an update that should be called Android 4.4.3.
Google still hasn’t confirmed anything but thanks to a series of credible leaks and rumors, we know that the company is working on an Android 4.4.3 KitKat update. Android 4.4.3 KitKat may not be given the red carpet treatment like the one Android 4.4 KitKat received but it’s clear that this is going to an extremely important update to many Android users.
With Android 4.4.3 KitKat details swirling around, we want to take an updated look at what Android users should expect from the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update, its release date and its features.
Android 4.4.3 KitKat Release
Android 4.4.3 KitKat Release Soon
There are a ton of Android 4.4.3 KitKat update rumors swirling around but none of them have been able to pinpoint the start of the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update. That said, there are signs all over that point to an imminent release of Google’s brand new Android 4.4.3 KitKat software update for Nexus users.
Two weeks ago, Sprint announced that it would be rolling out an Android 4.4.3 KitKat update for its Nexus 5 users. The Nexus 5 is Google’s latest Nexus smartphone and it’s going to be on the front lines of the release given that it’s a Nexus device. Nexus devices are always first in line to Google’s Android updates.
Sprint was forced to announce a delay to that update, for unknown reasons, but the fact that it was planning to deliver two weeks ago is a sign that things are moving.
Google also recently updated its Edu Device Setup application on the Google Play Store. It was updated earlier this month and the device’s change log includes the following references:
- Support for new Google Spreadsheets
- Support for Android 4.4.3 and non-Nexus Tablets
- Minor UI updates and bug fixes
So it looks like Google was, and probably is, preparing to release the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update to the public.
We’ve also seen the update show up in a Bluetooth Certification for the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and we’ve seen numerous credible sources state that they believe the Android 4.4.3 KitKat update will start rolling out soon. Android Police, several weeks ago, said that the update would roll out in several weeks. That report was issued on April 9th so unless Google decided to kill this update, we’re probably as close as we’ve ever been to a release.
At this point, Android users need to remain patient. Google typically does not announce incremental releases in advance so we will likely hear about the roll out on the day of the roll out.
Arrival for All Nexus Users
At this point, it’s pretty clear that this update is going to roll out for all Nexus owners. We’ve seen the Nexus 7 and Nexus 5 Android 4.4.3 KitKat updates pop up several times and reports suggest that the Nexus 4, and Nexus 10 will also get the upgrade. The Galaxy Nexus was left behind on Android 4.3 so it won’t be getting the upgrade.
This makes a whole lot of sense. Nexus users of all shapes and sizes have been vocal about problems with Android 4.4.3 and it would be very strange to see Google issue an update that supposedly has over three dozen fixes to a limited set of devices. At this point, Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 owners can expect to join in on the fun.
Google Play Editions
Don’t expect the Nexus 4, Nexus 10, Nexus 7, and Nexus 5 to be the only devices to get the Android 4.4.3 KitKat upgrade. That Bluetooth Certification all but confirmed the update for the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and credible leaks point to an arrival for the other Google Play Edition devices as well.
Numerous times, HTC ROM developer and insider LLabTooFeR has said that the HTC One Google Play Editions will be getting the Android 4.4.3 KitKat upgrades. He claims that those two updates will land for HTC One M7 and HTC One M8 owners in May or June which means that the update for Nexus devices should land in either April, May or June as well.
Android Police claims that all Google Play Edition devices will get the upgrade and that the Moto X will also be included. The Moto X was one of the first non-Nexus, non-Google Play Edition devices to get the upgrade so the rumor fits.
Non-Google Play Edition Updates
The Moto X looks like it will get Android 4.4.3 KitKat and rumors suggest that the HTC One M7 and HTC One M8, non-Google Play Editions, will get the upgrade as well. We haven’t heard anything about upgrades beyond those three devices and it’s possible that companies like LG and Samsung will skip Android 4.4.3 KitKat in favor of a bigger Android update.
We expect a company like HTC to communicate its Android 4.4.3 KitKat upgrade plans with its customers. HTC has made it a point to keep its users in the loop about major Android updates and while Android 4.4.3 KitKat is expected to be dominated by bug fixes, it’s still important nonetheless.
We fully expect HTC to offer up its plans and we wouldn’t be surprised if a company like Motorola followed suit. Other companies like LG and Samsung will likely remain silent.
Standard Google Roll Out
Nexus users should expect a standard Google Android update roll out. What this means is that we’ll likely see the company push the Nexus updates out on the same day, and if not the same day, within a few days of each other. The updates will then likely become available to manually install ahead of the OTA. Google’s OTA’s are notorious for taking several days, if not several weeks to complete.
For those that need a little education, here is how a Google engineer once explained the 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.
In other words, Nexus users will need to remain patient. Sprint originally said that its Nexus 5 Android 4.4.3 KitKat update would roll out from April 14th to April 21st. Expect the process to take a week at least.
Nexus roll outs are usually followed closely by updates for Google Play Edition devices. Once those are taken care of, then we typically see non-Nexus and non-Google Play Edition devices get their upgrades.
Android 4.4.3 KitKat Features
Tons of Bug Fixes
Android 4.4.3, as one can tell by its name, is an incremental upgrade to the Android 4.4 KitKat OS that rolled out in November. So, it’s not surprising that rumors point to an extensive bug fix update rather than a game-changer. While we’re not entirely sure what the full change log will look like, rumors have patched together an unofficial, but credible change log.
The change log that’s been compiled over recent weeks suggests that Android 4.4.3 KitKat will be dominated by over three dozen fixes for Android 4.4.2 KitKat problems. Among them are said to be fixes for unstable data connections, camera focus, random reboot issues, missed call LED problems, VPN issues, and a whole lot more.
Again, this may not seem like a big time update but it looks like Google is doing its very best to tackle many of the issues that have been plaguing Nexus devices and other devices since November. To many people, that’s huge.
Lack of New Features
Users should not be expecting very many changes other than these bug fixes. An alleged Android 4.4.3 KitKat leak that emerged out of XDA-Developers last week points to a redesigned dialer.
The device that is using the redesigned dialer appears to be a Nexus 5 running the unreleased Android 4.4.3 KitKat update. This remains unconfirmed but if true, it will likely stand as one of the only changes outside of these bug fixes.
Expect these updates to be unique, at least the ones for carrier-branded devices. Carriers like Sprint tend to put their own unique spin on these upgrades and users should expect their change log to differ from generic devices. In Sprint’s case, it said that its Android 4.4.3 update would bring Sprint Spark for bands 26 and band 41.
Last Update Until Whatever Is Next
Android users should expect this Android 4.4.3 KitKat update to be the last bug fix update for the Android 4.4 KitKat update. Google typically only rolls out a couple of bug fix updates and our guess is that it’s holding Android 4.4.3 KitKat back to make sure that it’s as stable as it can possibly be. So a Android 4.4.4 KitKat update would be a surprise, unless Android 4.4.3 is riddled with bugs.
Rumors point to an Android 4.5 release this summer alongside a new Nexus 8 tablet though those rumors remain unconfirmed. Google, in recent years, has released two Android updates per year, one in the summer and one in the fall, and it looks like it could be sticking to a similar pattern in 2014.