Android 4.3 Making Its Way to a Smartphone Near You

Each release of the Android operating system goes through several official stages before it heads out to the public. But there’s one unofficial stage that best portends the upgrade’s imminent release: when the upgrade gets leaked. The Android 4.3 upgrade, likely to be the last iteration of the Jelly Bean version of the software, has been leaked, allowing the public to get a look at it in action and giving a strong sign that the official release isn’t far off.

Available for Adventurous Souls

The public gets its first taste of the latest Android OS, Android 4.3, with a leak of a test version of the software. According to this Tom’s Hardware article, a Samsung insider has posted screenshots of the software running on the Google Play version of the Samsung Galaxy S4. That’s the version of the S4 that comes unlocked and without bloatware.

These screenshots come at the same time as the SamMobile website has a ported version of the firmware that works with the regular Galaxy S4. According to the testers, the features are all working and there are no significant bugs, leading many to believe that the software is just about ready for release. This firmware is available to download but only by people willing to void their warranty and potentially ruin their device.

The software itself has few surprises. There is support for low-energy Bluetooth operation, an updated camera app (which is already available on some devices), a power-saving change in how WiFi is handled, a host of developer-focused upgrades, and a few minor UI changes.

With a clean test version out there, an official release of the OS is expected to come in the next few weeks, barring any major chances to the software as it is now.

The Release for the Rest of Us

If voiding the warranty and rooting your smartphone doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, you may have to wait a while to get your hands on this update. Owners of newer, unlocked devices and Google’s Nexus devices can expect a fairly quick rollout, probably coming sometime in July. Flagship devices, like the S4, will also probably get the update fairly quickly. Most other devices will unfortunately get pushed to the bottom of the priority queue, and it could be several months or more before individual manufacturers approve and release the 4.3 update.

This may cause another episode of an annoying Android problem, as the Key Lime Pie version of the OS, 5.0, is expected to hit some devices later this year. It’s more than a little frustrating for device owners to be waiting on the 4.3 update when the 5.0 is already out, but such is life with Android OS releases.

The known features in the Android 4.3 update aren’t likely to make you trade in your old device and get a device scheduled to get the upgrade, but if you already have a device that’s getting the update soon, it’s always nice to have the latest version of a software. Plus, this leak is only an early version, so you never know what kind of surprises might be in store by the time the upgrade actually rolls out to customers.