In November, shortly after Google released Android 4.4.1 KitKat, the company released Android 4.4.2 KitKat. In an effort to continue its odd trend, Google released Android 4.4.4 KitKat right after it released Android 4.4.3 KitKat. The situation, like the one in November, is a bit confusing. So, here, we want to make things less confusing for those who either have Android 4.4.4 KitKat or Android 4.4.3 KitKat already or are anticipating an upgrade down the road.
Last year, Google announce its Android 4.4 KitKat update, an update that replaced the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update as the company’s latest and greatest operating system. Android 4.4 KitKat is not a massive update but it did bring some noticeable changes to owners of Google’s Nexus devices and other smartphones and tablets around the world.
Google pushed out Android 4.4.1 KitKat shortly after the arrival of the Nexus 5 in an effort to improve the device’s camera and tackle a few of the initial issues. Shortly after pushing out Android 4.4.1 in November, Google quickly pushed out Android 4.4.2 KitKat, a small update with some minor changes attached to it. Android 4.4.2 became Google’s go-to Android update and an update that manufacturers like HTC and Samsung brought to their flagships.
Android 4.4.2 KitKat, however, was riddled with bugs and right away Nexus users and owners of other Android devices starting clamoring for an upgrade to Android 4.4.3 KitKat. Android 4.4.3 KitKat finally arrived, bug fixes in tow, earlier this month. On June 4th, the update started rolling out to Nexus users and since then, we’ve seen it push out for several other devices and we’ve seen it rumored for several more.
Last week, history repeated itself. Just as Android 4.4.3 KitKat was settling in as Google’s latest and greatest update, the company pushed out Android 4.4.4 KitKat, a brand new version that delivers a crucial security fix. The change probably didn’t mean much to Android enthusiasts that follow this sort of thing but it did confuse many casual Android users who aren’t as in tune with the smartphone world.
Here, we want to take a look at the differences and similarities between these two updates and breakdown the important things Android users need to know about Android 4.4.3 KitKat and Android 4.4.4 KitKat.
Many of the questions we’ve received regarding Android 4.4.3 KitKat and Android 4.4.4 KitKat are about their features. Android users want to know about the differences between the two.
The answer is pretty simple. If you get Android 4.4.3 KitKat instead of Android 4.4.4, you’ll be getting a massive bug fix update that will fix Android 4.4.2 KitKat problems. If you get Android 4.4.4 KitKat instead of Android 4.4.3 KitKat, you’ll also get a massive bug fix update that’s aimed at fixing Android 4.4.2 KitKat issues.
There is a slight difference between the two. Android 4.4.4 KitKat delivers some additional security fixes for Android users. Those looking for the full change log can find it here thanks to Funky Android. In other words, it’s a bit of an upgrade over Android 4.4.3 but not by much.
Keep in mind, not all Android updates are created equal. While Android 4.4.4 KitKat might be small for Nexus users, it probably won’t be small for devices like the Motorola Droid Ultra or Galaxy S5. Manufacturers will put their own spin on Android 4.4.4 so we’ll likely see the update deliver more than just bug fixes and security enhancements.
That’s about as simple as we can get.
Android 4.4.4 KitKat Overtaking Android 4.4.3
At this point, it’s hard to imagine devices getting Android 4.4.3 KitKat instead of Android 4.4.4 KitKat. Today, Sony skipped right over Android 4.4.3 KitKat for its Xperia XZ1 Compact, Sony Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z1 Ultra. Google did the same with the LG G Pad 8.3 GPe Android 4.4.4 update that’s rolling out right now. The G Pad 8.3 never got Android 4.4.3 like the company’s other Google Play devices.
Given that the Android 4.4.4 KitKat update is essentially Android 4.4.3 KitKat with some extra security patches on board, we expect other devices and other companies to follow suit.
Both HTC and Motorola announced that they will be skipping Android 4.4.3 KitKat for Android 4.4.4 KitKat. HTC’s Mo Versi confirmed that the company will be delivering an Android 4.4.4 KitKat update for the HTC One M7 in the United States and that means that we can expect one for the newer HTC One M8 as well.
Motorola’s David Schuster, in a post on Google+, says that the Android 4.4.4 KitKat update will be coming to the company’s Droid MAXX, Droid Ultra, and Droid mini. He says that the company is hoping to push in and around a month.
Sorry for the delay in giving an update on the 4.4.3 upgrades but I had to wait unit Google announced KitKat 4.4.4 today (I am bound by a NDA). A significant security vulnerability was discovered by OpenSSL (https://www.openssl.org/news/secadv_20140605.txt) and is fixed in KitKat 4.4.4. We had to wait until KitKat 4.4.4 became available. Consequently, all of our 4.4.3 upgrades that were in carrier labs worldwide (including the 2013 Droid’s) had to be respun, tested and resubmitted again. This was a significant unplanned effort that we had to undertake. We should be re-entering labs next week and hopefully getting TA (technical approval) in 3 to 5 weeks later depending on the carrier.
Samsung is rumored to have Android 4.4.3 KitKat in development for its Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4 LTE-A with ETAs rumored for June and July. With Motorola and HTC both shifting gears, our guess is that Samsung will also shift over to Android 4.4.4 KitKat and deliver Google’s latest update. How that might affect the release dates is unclear.
Remember, these are both incremental updates which means that there’s no guarantee they’ll arrive for every single device. Devices like the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 are both in the midst of Android 4.4.2 KitKat roll outs which means that Android 4.4.3 KitKat and Android 4.4.4 KitKat are likely far off in the distance.
If they do end up getting another KitKat update, we’d expect that update to Android 4.4.4 KitKat and not Android 4.4.3.
Android 4.4.4 & Android 4.4.3 KitKat Problems
It’s clear that users are dealing with Android 4.4.2 KitKat problems. From Nexus users to Samsung Galaxy users, Android users are complaining about 4.4.2 KitKat issues. That’s where Android 4.4.3 KitKat and Android 4.4.4 KitKat come in.
Both updates are aimed at alleviating Android 4.4.2 KitKat issues and from we’ve heard and seen with our own eyes, they’re both doing a pretty good job. For those that want to go a little more in depth with both updates, be sure to check out our full reviews for both updates:
- Android 4.4.3 KitKat for Nexus 5 Review
- Android 4.4.3 for Nexus 4 Review
- Android 4.4.4 for Nexus 5 Review
- Android 4.4.4 for Nexus 7 Review
However, it seems that both of these updates have brought problems to Nexus owners and perhaps, to owners of other devices as well. We’ve taken an in depth look at the Android 4.4.3 KitKat and Android 4.4.4 KitKat problems plaguing the Nexus 7, Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and Nexus 10, and it appears that the updates share the same issues. In other words, updating from Android 4.4.3 KitKat to Android 4.4.4 KitKat may not fix the issue that you’re dealing with.
We’ve noted that some of these issues have temporary fixes while others don’t seem to have any kind of a permanent fix. With Android L on the way later this year, it’s possible that we could see Google attach Android 4.4.3 and Android 4.4.4 fixes on board that update instead of on an Android 4.4.5 KitKat update. Either way, we’d expect the next bug fixer to be a good ways out.
Android L release date rumors put the update inside Q3 or Q4 alongside a Nexus 8 tablet. Keep in mind, Android L will likely bring some problems of its own. Android updates, even tiny ones like Android 4.4.3 and Android 4.4.4, always do.
We realize that tracking down details and making sense of Android updates, especially updates like these, can be very difficult so our hope is that this cleared up some of the bigger issues and details regarding Google’s latest Android 4.4 KitKat updates.
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