With two leaks of Android 4.3 on different devices inside of a fortnight, it’s a pretty safe bet that Google is readying the software for a wider audience. First the Google Experience phones and now the Nexus 4 phone have Android 4.3 builds out in the wild. Google hasn’t officially launched the software, but it’s clearly testing a near-ready (if not final) build that could arrive as soon as next week for some smartphones.
So what can you expect in Android 4.3? Few new look-and-feel features; instead, most of the improvements are behind the scenes additions.
Android Central installed the software on a Nexus 4 and has a video walk though available to see. The overall touch sensitivity is reportedly improved and my hope is that enhancement works across all Android devices capable of running Android 4.3. Also verified is what we already knew about the new software: Android is getting an updated Bluetooth stack with support for Bluetooth 4 Low Energy. That’s handy for a connected wearable device, such as the expected Google smartwatch that’s in the works.
I like the “always on” Wi-Fi location bits that Android Central pointed out. Often when using location-based software I’m on the road and have my Wi-Fi radio disabled to save on battery life. Yet, these location apps often suggest turning Wi-Fi on to assist in finding my location. With the new setting, you can allow Android 4.3 to temporarily use the Wi-Fi radio as needed for location-finding purposes. Google is also including support for OpenGL ES 3.0 and a history of notifications, based on the Android Central video.
There’s sure to be a few more small bits in the software upgrade, but if you were expecting major new features, you probably shouldn’t. Google is in a bit of a holding pattern when it comes to big Android advances, particularly in the user interface. It’s taking time for handsets to catch up with the software as only last month did Jelly Bean become the most used version of Android.
The bigger hint that “less is more” may have come from Google’s I/O developer event in May. Many were expecting Android 4.3 at that time, but instead, Google provided many new features and services for current Android devices; effectively providing a new user experience without actually pushing new software to existing phones. The bigger front-facing changes are more likely part of Android 5.0, also known as Key Lime Pie. For now, the Jelly Beans are just getting a little sweeter.