Google is getting ready for an update to Android 4.4, according to reports. While this isn’t news to us, as we’ve seen KitKat’s newest version before, we’re now seeing the newest version of Android on a few more devices. Unfortunately, we’re not seeing it on enough devices to get excited about the effect it could have.
Issues with the Nexus 10 and KitKat 4.4.1 are known, and troubling. Google is also testing the update on a number of other Nexus devices, including the Nexus 4. Metrics from 9to5Google’s website show a variety of Nexus devices with the updated version of Android visiting their site. All stem from Santa Clara area in California, which is Google’s backyard — right next to Mountain View.
The 4.4 update is still rolling out to consumers, and there is no word on just what this update brings. We’ve heard a fair amount of complaints about KitKat, but nothing major. Android 4.4 has a variety of smaller tweaks on the back end, and a new runtime which feels faster on our reference devices, but it’s not as if they left December out this time.
For what it’s worth, we’d like to see the Google Now launcher on Nexus devices. The best part of the Nexus 5 is that swipe-to-the-left for Google Now, and it’s still only available for the new Nexus flagship. Now that the novelty of a new Nexus has worn, we’re hoping the update brings a few of the subtleties we enjoy about the Nexus 5 to more handsets. Even things as quaint as translucent backgrounds in the app drawer are nice touches.
An update, however, only complicates the fragmentation issue KitKat was supposed to solve. While iOS enjoys about 95% of users on the same OS version, the Android space is much more complex. Even when supporting a singular version of Android, the incremental updates only complicate the fragmentation issue. Unless Google has something new in mind for these updates, we’re seeing those impressive first run of adoption numbers becoming a lot less important.