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Android 4.3 Looks Like Minor Update, for Release in June or July
by Jacqueline Emigh -  5/17/2013

While Android 4.3 got no mention during the Google I/0 keynote, rumors are swirling that the new OS will show up in either June or July. Apparently, though, Android 4.3 could be a minor update, "decoupled" from Google offerings such as the music and gaming services and maps app unveiled at I/O. Through this decoupling, users will be able to take advantage of new features from Google more quickly, and on more types of devices, without regard to the OS (operating system).

[click to view image]According to Taylor Wimberly, founder of the blog Android and Me, Android 4.3 (which will reportedly be the third version dubbed "Jelly Bean") will first ship on a white Nexus 4 phone that will hit the Google Play store on June 10. Wimberly claims to have seen the white phone during Google I/O (and he's snapped a photo of the purposed phone -- shown here at right -- to prove it).

Evidently, Wimberly was unable to sneak a peek at the OS aboard, but he anticipates that 4.3 will be a "rather minor update" with improvements like an upgrade in developer API (application programming interface) level to version 18, support for Bluetooth Smart, and possible support for OpenGL E3 3.0.

Announcement of Android 4.3 at July Event? 

Over at Android Beat, Stefan Constantinescu said that he knows other people who've seen the white Nexus at Google I/O. Constantinescu, though, doubts whether the white phone will be running Android 4.3. He suggests that Google will instead announce Android 4.3 and a refreshed Nexus 7 tablet at at event in July.

As some see it, though, the myriad services and apps rolled out at Google I/O amount to a major OS update, anway, except that these will be available outside of the core OS, independently of which version of Android your phone or tablet happens to be running.

With 'Decoupling,' End Users Can Get Their Hands on New Features Right Away

These new offerings include Google Play Music All Access, Google Play Gaming Services, and big updates to the Google Maps app and Google's Chrome for Mobile browser, for instance.

[click to view image]By making these things available to all Android tablet and phone users, Google avoids the "fragmentation" issues created by the need for OEM customization and verification by wireless carriers.

End users can get their hands on new features without waiting around for carriers to issue OS updates for the devices they've already bought.

Beyond that, of course, keeping these features outside of the Android OS makes it possible for Google to provide services like gaming through Google+ and streaming music available not just to Android users, but through iOS apps and Web browsers.

Device Updates to Android 4.1 Slow and Sporadic

By one estimate, Android 4.1 ("Jelly Bean") -- an update announced at Google I/O last year -- is only installed on 26.1% of Android devices, while Android 4.2 is only installed on 2.3%. The existing black Nexus 4 runs Android 4.2.

Android 4.1 brings new features like a faster user interface (UI), offline voice typing, and Google Now's Siri-like voice search. Device updates to Android 4.1, however, have been slow and sporadic indeed.

AT&T, for example, updated the Motorola Atrix HD in December of 2012 and the LG Optimus G in April of this year. Sprint updated the Galaxy Victory in April, while Verizon's update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 came earlier this month.

The list of updates goes on, seemingly randomly.

In many instances, carriers have combined the Jelly Bean updates with their own new features. AT&T's update to the Optimus G also rolled in support for the ISIS Mobile Wallet, to give just one example.

 


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