Thursday, July 18, 2013

Android 4.3 "finally" leaks for the Nexus 4

Ever since the leak heard round the world that involved SamMobile coming into possession of an Android 4.3 ROM built for the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition, Nexus 4 owners have been screaming "what about me?". Last night +Jeff Williams found that a Nexus 4 he had purchased on Craigslist from a Googler was actually running Android 4.3 and so the comment threads ensued. He is suddenly a Google+ celebrity in a way simply because he got lucky enough to purchase a Nexus 4 running the coveted unannounced OS. Fast forward a few hours involving him getting assistance from developers around the world to perform a system dump (read: Nandroid) and allow the developers to get their hands on it so that the rest of us might also be able to get this show on the road. Fast forward a few more hours and the developers have done it, there is a flashable version of the Android 4.3 OS available on XDA developers. Click here to see the thread

What's New?

What's new you ask!? Not much actually, at least not much that the user will notice.

  • Firstly there is Bluetooth Low-Energy, which we have known for a very long time would be included as a part of the new version of the OS. BT LE is fairly self explanatory, it is a version of the Bluetooth protocol which uses less energy than the standard version. 
  • Persistent notifications - you know how in Android 4.0 - 4.2.2 you could disable an app from being able to show notifications so you didn't have to see a notification in the shade all the time, even if it didn't serve a purpose? Well, now that's a thing of the past.... we aren't really sure at this point what Google was thinking or what future purpose this may serve but I am under the impression that it is not without reason and when Google actually announces and releases the OS (Hopefully next Wednesday at the "Breakfast with Sundar Pichai" event) we will learn more about what Google is planning.
  • Always-On WiFi - Google has made the executive decision for you, that even if you aren't using WiFi and don't intend to, you're going to have WiFi in constant search. The reason behind this is most likely because Google wants to continue mapping their current information about WiFi router locations and having WiFi on all the time is the best way to do this. Additionally, WiFi uses much less battery than GPS does so if you are constantly using WiFi, then for most apps the WiFi location will be enough and you won't have to turn on that pesky GPS locator chip.
  • Google Keep is now included as a system app. This is probably just because at the time of the 4.2.2 release, Keep didn't exist yet (or if it did, it was very young) and they didn't want to put it into the hands of everyone yet.
  • The new Camera and Gallery apps which were already available in 4.2.2 on the Google Edition phones - not much is different here except a slightly different way to interact with the camera so your finger isn't always blocking your view of the icons.
  • T9 dialing is finally included but it is not ready to use by default you must activate it in the phone app settings by checking the "auto complete" checkbox. In my opinion it's still not as good as how Cyanogenmod does it but at least it's something - if you aren't sure what that is, imagine typing a person's name into the dialpad instead of their number
  • Otherwise, there isn't much to speak of. Hopefully bug fixes in the territory of WiFi and Bluetooth but we already know they did work in both of those departments. 
If you find any more new features in this leak that I haven't mentioned feel free to let us know in the comment section below or on the original post on Facebook or Google+.