For many Android owners, the 4.4.3 update has yet to hit (though it is slowly rolling out -- when you will receive the update will depend upon your carrier and device). Although the new feature list isn't epic in length, what it brings to the table will have a lot of users happy... quite happy, actually. This is especially so for users who frequently snap photos with their device and/or record audio.
Aesthetics get little in the way of an upgrade. There is a slight tweak to the Dialer app, but that's the only change to the UI you'll readily notice.
The short list of major changes looks something like this:
- A tweaked Dialer app with a colored Action bar (this is the UI change)
- Contact app (sometimes called People) uses placeholder images, similar to those used by Gmail
- Fixed hissing sound while recording videos (Nexus 5) is fixed
- Fix for LTE connection dropping bug
- Wi-Fi improvements
- Microphone and earphone related changes
There are also a lot of other under-the-hood camera, Bluetooth, and other system-related bug fixes.
The cameras (especially those on Motorola devices) will see numerous improvements. Exposure consistency and flash coloring are dramatically improved. A big change for photo enthusiasts is better low-light handling for the front camera.
Speaking of Motorola devices, Moto X and Moto G owners will find a new app called Motorola Alert. This app will send out periodic messages to select contacts.
Probably the biggest upside to this update is the improvements to security, overall stability, and power profile features. One major update is an optimization to ZRAM support. This allows idle background apps to store data in a compressed RAM partition to free up RAM for applications. There's also a low-RAM API that improves performance on devices with as little as 512 MB of RAM (by using more aggressive memory management). Finally, an experimental Java runtime (called ART) improves application performance over the current Dalvik runtime.
On the downside, at least for Nexus 5 owners, the mm-qcamera-daemon bug (this is a bug that caused the camera to quickly drain the device battery) has not been fixed. The update also does not fix the LED Notification for missed calls (which has been plaguing many devices for some time now).
Android 4.4.3 is primarily a continuation of bug fixing for KitKat. However, don't let the lack of UI changes fool you... the 4.4.3 update will go a long way to improve the performance and stability of your device. So, when can you expect the rollout to your device?
- GPE versions of the HTC One M7, Galaxy S4, HTC One M8, and the Sony Z Ultra should already have the update
- Sprint users with Nexus 5 devices should be seeing the update soon
- All other devices should see the update in the coming weeks
As with any Android update, predicting when a device will receive the new software is like predicting the weather -- it's hit and miss (and most often wrong). Every supported device should have the update available in the coming weeks. I can tell you that, as of this writing, Verizon HTC and Motorola devices, as well as AT&T Motorola devices, do not have the update available.
Have you received your 4.4.3 update? If so, has your Android device performance and reliability improved? What would you like to see in upcoming Android updates? Share your ideas in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.