Google Android 4.3 is in the Wild

Android 4.3 Jelly Bean has hit the streets, albeit in a leaked version. A full 4.3 ROM for the Google Play Edition Samsung Galaxy S4 has found its way online. Not the Nexus 4, but for the Galaxy S4 (Google Play Edition) first.

If you’re hoping for groundbreaking new features or an updated interface, this might be a bit of a disappointment. The ROM is still being pulled apart with great joy by developers, but you’d have to look twice to realize this isn’t Android 4.2. The menus, the home screen, and most of the apps look exactly the same.

In fact, most of the changes that have been discovered thus far are deep down in the system. There are new permissions, tweaked Bluetooth support, and a new camera app (which was previously leaked). This says a something important about how Google is approaching Android now — it’s basically tying up loose ends.

Past versions of Android, with the exception of 2.1 and 4.2, have been major updates. Both these versions kept the codename of their predecessor, but this is the first time we will have three updates in a row under the same sweet name. There aren’t huge handicaps in the Android platform like there once was, so Google can take its time.

More interesting than what the software holds is where it came from. This ROM was a test build running on a Google Play Edition Galaxy S4 — not a Nexus device. Surely there are Nexus phones with this software, but anyone worried about Samsung and HTC handling the updates for Google Play Edition devices should rest a little easier now. It really looks like the updates will flow freely with no carriers in the way. Also, the ROMs have been pulled apart so that owners of the original OEM phone version could install them too, which means fast updates all around.

By all accounts, the ROM is very close to finished. It still bears testing identifiers in the build number, but everything seems to work when it’s flashed to the regular Galaxy S4. The question GS4 owners have to ask themselves is, “should I install it?” If you like living dangerously, sure.

The Google Edition device has the i9505G model number. The hardware is identical to the North American carrier-branded Galaxy S4, which is just i9505. Modders have packaged the ROM to be flashed, but this is unannounced software. It might break when you place a call, reboot your phone, or even turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight. Only experienced users should proceed. The i9500 phones which are based off Exynos processors are not able to install this ROM.

To flash Android 4.3 to your i9505, grab the ROM from SamMobile and place it on your phone’s internal storage. The device must be rooted and running a custom recovery. If you don’t know what that means, take it as a sign you shouldn’t do this. Assuming you passed the skill-check, backup your data, then boot into recovery and wipe the phone. Flash the 4.3 ROM while still in recovery, and you’re done. The Galaxy S4 should reboot and load stock Android 4.3.

There are rumors swirling about, indicating that Google will be releasing the Nexus 7 2, a Nexus 7 2 successor, sometime in July. If that’s true, and given that a Nexus 7 2 type device has passed through the FCC it likely is, the device will almost certainly arrive with Android 4.3 on board meaning Google may pair the two together in an announcement.

Sean

Sean is a tech geek and star wars fan. He loves playing with new gadgets, writing little code snippets in Python, JS, and dabbling with Android programming from time to time, while keeping a lookout for the next biggest happening in the world of tech!

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