Android 4.4 KitKat Release Date Arrives: Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition Receives New OS; Samsung Remains Silent About Further Plans

  @FionnaatIBTf.agomuoh@ibtimes.com on November 26 2013 10:51 AM

Owners of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition can now rest easy as the Android 4.4 KitKat update is now rolling out on to the stock Android Galaxy S4 model.

On Monday, many owners of the HTC One Google Play Edition reported that their handsets had begun updating to Android 4.4. Google then announced via social media that both devices would begin updating.

With the Android 4.4 update, the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition receives 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.  

As has already been confirmed on the HTC One Google Play Edition update, the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition 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.

Other Transparent Manufacturers

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition will be the first Samsung device to receive Android 4.4 KitKat. Notably, Samsung has largely remained silent about its plans for the operating system, while other OEMs, such as HTC, Sony and Motorola have been extremely forthcoming with information about their updates. HTC in particular has made good use of social media for keeping the public up to date with its plans, including announcing when it had completed its Android 4.4 KitKat code for the HTC One Google Play Edition and delivered it to Google.

As we previously mentioned, the fact that the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition has now updated indicates that Samsung has access to the Android 4.4 KitKat code, which suggests updates for many of the original Galaxy models may already be in the works. SamMobile suggests that the manufacturer is already working on an Android 4.4 update for the Galaxy Note 3. However, Samsung’s silence has been eerie, with not even a comment about the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition.

Currently, a leaked timeline suggests the original Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 will update to Android 4.4 in January while the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 will update to Android 4.4 between March and April. However, with no word from Samsung the rumor cannot be confirmed.

Thus far, only Samsung U.K. has spoken up, saying the manufacturer will “announce rollout plans for Android 4.4 in due course.” There is no saying why Samsung is being so secretive about its plans, Motorola  has already begun updating its Moto X to Android 4.4, while Sony has announced its commitment to updating a number of its high-end devices to Android 4.4. HTC has also stated plans to have its original HTC One updated to Android 4.4 by the end of January, and also plans to update its Droid DNA. In comparison, Samsung strict non-disclosure has many users feeling as if their best interest is not being considered.

Is Samsung's Silence Really A Concern?

It is important to consider that the Korean manufacturer is currently updating several Samsung Galaxy models to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean at the time, and may simply have its hands full at the moment. HTC has notably already updated most HTC One models to Android 4.3, while the Moto X skipped Android 4.3 in order to update to Android 4.4, and Sony also has plans to update a number of devices to Android 4.3 (which was expected ever since the release of Android 4.3).

Until Samsung is ready, such savvy users may want to take advantage of custom ROM builds, such as the unofficial CyanogenMod 11 alpha build, which was recently released. There are also custom ROMs for other Galaxy models, such as the Galaxy S3, and the Galaxy Nexus a Google device, which was notably manufactured by Samsung, and is now too old to update to Android 4.4.

Users should also keep in mind that there are a lot of bugs circling Android iterations at the moment. While Samsung is having issues updating many devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S4 to Android 4.3, Google is also having post-update issues with Android 4.4 on the Nexus 4. Currently, it seems best to keep devices functional with an older operating system than to be anxious to update to a buggy new one.

Are you a Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition owner looking forward to the Android 4.4 KitKat update? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow me on Twitter @FionnaatIBT.

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