HTC has been on top of its game yet again, pushing out the Android 4.4 KitKat update for the HTC One Unlocked model and the HTC One Developer Edition before the end of the year.
HTC announced the updates via social media on Friday, making the HTC One Unlocked model and the HTC One Developer Edition the second and third HTC One models to update to Android 4.4 in 2013. Last week, the HTC One Google Play Edition, updated with a stock Android 4.4 build, which was refined by HTC and rolled out by Google. This time, it’s HTC pushing out the update. With both HTC One models unlocked and not branded to any specific carrier, they do not require any network certifications before they can update, and therefore can update much sooner than carrier-branded devices.
HTC says HTC One U.S. carrier branded models will begin to update to Android 4.4 KitKat by the end of January. The HTC One is powered by such carriers as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. An Android 4.4 update for the Verizon HTC One is uncertain, or at least may not happen at the same time as other carriers, as the model is expected to finally receive its Android 4.3 Jelly Bean update during the second week of December.
With the Android 4.4 update, the HTC One Unlocked model and the HTC One Developer Edition receive a host of new features including "Immersive mode," updated lockscreen features, "Always On" Hands-Free Navigation, decreased fragmentation through "Project Svelte," smart calling, messenger and Hangouts integration, a full emoji keyboard, updated NFC, cloud printing and storage, TV and Bluetooth compatibility, and screen recording, among many others. The HTC One Android 4.4 update also includes the Sense 5.5 UI, which is new to most U.S. models, and features enhancements to HTC specific apps such as BlinkFeed and Zoe.
As has already been confirmed on the Nexus and Google Play Edition updates, the Android 4.4 update for these HTC One models will likely not include the Google Experience launcher, which remains a feature exclusive to the Nexus 5. The launcher includes such features as the transparent status and navigation bars, and also implements the voice-activated Google Now and Google Search. But all is not lost as users can use ripped files to flash the Google Experience Launcher onto their handsets. The third party Nova Launcher, which adopts the Google Experience look, is also available.
There is currently no word as to whether other devices in the HTC One line will update to Android 4.4 KitKat. The HTC One Max runs its native Android 4.3 with Sense 5.5, while the HTC One mini runs Android 4.2.2 with Sense 5. The only other HTC device currently confirmed for an Android 4.4 update is the Droid DNA.
Are you glad to see the HTC One Unlocked model and the HTC One Developer Edition update to Android 4.4 KitKat? Let us know in the comments below.
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Fionna Agomuoh is a Technology Reporter for the International Business Times, a vegan foodie, and a lover of Electric Dance Music.