What are you going to do to break you off a piece of that KitKat bar?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Android 4.4, also known as "KitKat", is coming. We know it's coming. We've known it's been coming for some time, and if today's official render of the Nexus 5 that showed up in the Google Play Store was any indicator of anything it will be here very, very soon. Oh yeah, and we also have this:
Take it how you will. Personally, I'm getting pretty pumped to see what it's all about. We have rumors here, rumors there and rumors everywhere, and while dreaming can be fun it's still nice to know the official details of everything. When it comes to KitKat, not only is it named after one of my favorite candy bars, but it's also rumored to be one of the first software updates to cater to more than just flagship Androids if a manufacturer so chooses to - I'm looking at you, older Androids. Google has stated that they want KitKat to be a software version that "everybody" can enjoy, which presumably means that instead of requiring more specs to run smoothly, they back tracked and made a smoother user experience by reducing the amount of power required to run it.
But although it seems that KitKat will be able to run on a plethora of Android systems, powerful and not-so-powerful, it really is up to the manufacturer whether the update will be applied to certain phones. One of the bad things about Android is the fact that when a new software version comes out, it doesn't always mean that you are guaranteed to see it anytime soon. Even with flagship devices, you're likely going to have to wait several months before seeing any official release for your device. This is due to most manufacturers having custom skins over stock Android, such as HTC's Sense UI, or Samsung's TouchWiz. It's likely that these manufacturers have plenty of time to work on their respected UI's with the new version of Android, but with many of these manufacturers working with several phones it's probably not as easy as it might be made out to be. Take the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 for example; both phones were released months ago, and they're just now being updated with Android 4.3, just when Android 4.4 was being released. So, if being on the latest official version of Android is your top priority, being on a phone that uses anything but stock Android might not be your best bet.
Fortunately, Google makes it pretty easy for you to be able to taste the sweet chocolatey goodness of KitKat, or really any of the latest Android releases, through their line of Nexus devices. Whether it's a Nexus phone or a Nexus tablet, one of the greatest things about Nexus devices is that they're (usually) the first ones to be updated with the latest version of Android. I use the term "usually" because the Sprint and Verizon Galaxy Nexus devices have yet to be updated to Android 4.3, which is somewhat disappointing considering the Nexus line of devices are designed for quick updates. Regardless, in most cases the Nexus has been pretty good at keeping updates timely. With the exception of the CDMA Galaxy Nexus devices, the Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 will probably be your best bet for being the first to officially get Android 4.4 KitKat.
And what about everybody else? The question still remains how long people are going to have to wait to receive this update, which may never come for some people. Even if a manufacturer has an update ready to go, there's still the final barrier it needs to get past, and that's the carrier that a phone is being used on. In short, there are generally a lot of hoops to jump through in order to get a software update. Fortunately there are ways around it, and one of the most popular methods is rooting and flashing a ROM.
Have I mentioned how much I love developers? If I haven't, I should say right now that I do. These are the people that slave night and day to get these official updates out to as many people as they can, even if a carrier isn't ready to release a version. For example, I've been using Android 4.3 on my HTC One for quite some time now because I flashed a ROM featuring the software version even before we caught wind that we would be seeing it in the HTC One as soon as we did. More than likely, it's going to be quite some time before we even hear a whisper about KitKat coming to the One, so what's a gal to do in the meantime? Flash as many 4.4 ROMs as I can until I find the perfect one for me.
There are multiple ways to get to KitKat once its released, but what route are you going to take to get there? Do you plan on waiting until the official release is out for your phone, root and flash ROMs or purchase a Nexus device? Share your plans for KitKat with us in the comments below!