Android 4.3 should be announced tomorrow at Google press event. We are also expecting the new Nexus 7 to be announced alongside the new version of Jelly Bean, but we're going to focus on Android 4.3 here. We have gotten a good look at a leaked build of 4.3 from a Nexus 4. The story behind it is really fun. Today, we're going to break it down for you so you know what to expect when Android 4.3 is announced.
This leak has the same build number and date as the leaked Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition 4.3 ROM. It's built specifically for the Nexus 4. As always, be careful flashing new firmware to your device. You take full responsibility when you start tinkering with your device. Let's jump right in.
General Improvements To The Nexus 4
The new leaked build is tweaked specifically for the Nexus 4. Android 4.3 adds OpenGL 3.0 support, which improves GLBenchmark 2.5 results byt 5 frames-per-second or so. Touch sensitivity has been greatly improved as well. There is a new radio, too, which improves general Wi-Fi performance. Audio latency time has been cut in half, from 86ms down to just 40ms. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth issues have been addressed, with both working perfectly on this leaked Android build.
Wi-Fi That Is Always On
There is a new feature in Android 4.3 that allows Wi-Fi to be switched on at all times, even after switching it off in Quick Settings. This option lets your Wi-Fi lie dormant, to conserve battery life. When apps need to do quick location checks, your Wi-Fi will wake up briefly to help. It will scan for access points then go back to sleep, essentially, until it's needed again. Using Wi-Fi to help find your location is a more efficient than switching on your device GPS chip.
We first saw this Always On Wi-Fi option in the leaked Android 4.3 build for the Samsung Galaxy S4.
New T9 dialer
There is a new T9 dialer that will auto-complete searches based on names and numbers in your contact list. This feature has been requested by stock Android users for quite some time. The T9 search lets you find and dial numbers much more quickly. The feature is turned off by default, so you'll need to jump in to the dialer settings and turn it on. It's something you'll want to do immediately.
The new camera in this Nexus build is very similar to the one that leaked out with the Galaxy S4 4.3 build. In the Google Play Edition leak, the circular camera settings bar has been switched out for a semi-circular bar. This makes accessing your settings much easier. A new countdown timer has been added in, and you can now use the Nexus 4 volume buttons to snap a photo. It's nice to have a physical shutter button again.
When you change phone orientation, the whole screen doesn't flip the way it used to. That has been replaced by a simple change in the button orientation. It's a much better implementation, and makes for a smoother, more pleasant experience. There are also some new frames and additions to the photo editor. The editor has also received a slight visual update. The camera is improved, but it's still not on par with the stock HTC and Samsung cameras, which offer more options.
New Play Store, Notification History, System Apps, and Developer Settings
There is an updated Play Store app, which you can download right now if you want it. There's also a new notification history, and updated developer settings and system apps that could be used in conjunction with future wearable devices like a Google smartwatch, or even Google Glass. There are updated Google Keep and Hangout apps, too.
Bluetooth Low Energy and AVCRP 1.3
Bluetooth Low Energy has long been rumored to be coming in Android 4.3. It's here, and it's a welcome addition. Bluetooth Low Energy is an update to the Bluetooth standard that makes it more efficient. Bluetooth LE uses considerably less power than previous versions of Bluetooth. Lower power consumption equals longer battery life, and that's a good thing.
AVCRP stands for Audio/Video Remote Control Profile. It's a Bluetooth profile that allows Bluetooth devices to control media playback on remote devices. AVCRP 1.3 is an update that improves audio streaming, adds two way communications, and brings full track metadata to Android.
Even more butter! Project Butter was announced along with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. In the 4.3 update, animations are much smoother. There have also been some improvements and tweaks to the Dalvik VM (virtual machine). This should make for faster, and smoother, applications. General GPU rendering has been improved, too. This will translate in to better, faster graphics with lower battery consumption.
Even More Tweaks And Changes
The stock Google keyboard now has full Emoji support, in case you want to use them. Emoji support should be pushed to the Google Keyboard that is available on the Play Store soon. The Roboto font has been tweaked a bit, too. Edges have been smoothed and curves have been streamlined. The overall typeface looks better. The clock in the status bar disappears when you are on the lock screen now, too.
This Nexus 4 ROM leak looks like it's very close to a finished Android 4.3 build. Google may have some surprises for us tomorrow at their press event, but we kind of doubt it. As expected, Android 4.3 is not a OS update, but it does add a few nice, new features. More importantly, Google is focusing on optimizing the user experience, specifically in the area of power consumption and battery life. We'll update you again once Android 4.3 becomes official. We're hoping to have a release date to you, too. Stay tuned.