16
Nov
1

The Nexus 4 retail software update is out! Previously, all Nexus 4 were running pre-release software, which was missing a few things. I reviewed the Nexus 4 as best I could with the beta software, but I wanted to update it once I had a few days to play with the final build.

Now that the final software is out, I've updated my review, and, to save people that have already read it from digging through 6000 words looking for updates, I'm putting all the new info in this article, too. So, if you haven't read the review and want to know all about the Nexus 4, skip this article, and go read the whole, updated thing. If you've previously read the review and only want to know what's new in the retail build, you want to read this. Got it? Good.

So, what's new? Not a lot.

Lock Screen Widgets

Lock Screen widgets are... weird, and pretty lame.

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Here's a good example of what you can do with the lock screen. The calendar is a widget. The lock screen has multiple pages, just like a home screen. The main screen opens with what you see in the first picture. The unlock method is exposed, and the widget is shrunk down to the top quarter of the screen. If you pull the widget area down (like the notification panel), the unlock area will shrink down to a button, and the widget will expand.

This brings me to the two big problems I have with this lock screen widget method: 1) You get 1 widget per screen. In the picture on the right, you can't resize that calendar widget; it will always be that big. 2) Every unlock method takes up 3/4 of the screen. All the available unlock methods were designed in a pre-lock screen widget era, so none of them ever bothered being compact. As a result, if you have the lock method up, you can only see a tiny sliver of widget. Most of the stock Android widgets were designed for 10-inch tablets, so this isn't a useful amount of space.

The primary lock screen always opens with the unlock method open and a small widget, like you see in the first picture. Every other screen opens with the unlock method minimized and a full screen widget, like the third pic.

wm_2012-11-14 14.28.14wm_2012-11-14 16.14.04wm_2012-11-14 14.28.35

Sliding to the right screen will always bring up the camera. You can't change this. The really annoying thing is that, once you're in the camera, you cannot slide to the left to go back to your home screens. You're stuck there unless you hit the back button.

All additional lock screens go to the left. When you hit a blank page, you'll see a plus symbol, and hitting it will take you to the list of available widgets. Lock screen widgets are different than home screen widgets, so right now there are only 5. Calendar, Clock, Gmail, Messaging, and Sound Search. For the record, my home screen has access to about 80 widgets. Developers have some updating to do. Lock screen widgets have to deal with more security issues than home screen widgets (more on that later), which is probably why developers have to tweak some things in order for them to work.

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Here's the full lineup of full expanded widgets. Even though some widgets like Clock and Sound Search are clearly small enough to both fit on a screen, you are only allowed 1 per screen.

Widgets work just like they do on the home screen. Calendar, Messaging, and Gmail are all scrollable, and other than that, just about any button will launch the full application.

wm_2012-11-14 14.29.04

If you've been wondering what the little dotted circle is in the system bar, that's inviting you to launch Google Now, which is accessible from any screen.

Security

The more security-conscious among you may be saying "What's the point of a lock screen when lots of personal info can now be accessed from the lock screen?" but Google actually did a good job with locking everything down.

wm_2012-11-12 21.44.50wm_2012-11-12 21.45.13

If you use a secure unlock method (Pattern, PIN, or Face) and someone steals your phone, they'll see any information available in the widgets you've already set up. That means, potentially, the first 2 lines of your Gmail, your texts, and your entire calendar. Any time they tap on anything, though, they'll have the lock screen pop up in their face and demand authentication. The Notification panel can't be opened from a secure lock screen, and widgets can't be added without authenticating. Swiping over to the camera will allow them to take pictures, but they can't look at old photos.

If you're hardcore about security, you probably don't want any lock screen widgets, because of what they give others access to. Thankfully, you can't add widgets without authenticating, so, as long as you don't add any, you're just as secure as you've always been.

Benchmarks

I ran the usual benchmarks again on the final software build. Nothing's changed.

I've heard theories that the poor benchmark scores are due to overheating/thermal throttling, so I threw the phone in the freezer for a half hour, and ran the benchmarks again (while still in the freezer), and the scores still weren't any different.

Battery Life

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Battery life has improved, which is probably a combination of better software and the battery having a few more cycles under its belt. Whatever the case, the battery should be enough to get you through the day. I forgot to take a screenshot of the full graph at the end of the day, so the picture on the right is from earlier the same day, about 1 and a half hours before it died.

For this run, I had auto brightness on all day, streamed Pandora over bluetooth for about an hour while driving to and from work, took a phone call and some texts, and had about a 50/50 split between Wi-Fi and cell data time. GPS, Sync, and Bluetooth were on the whole time, as were all my normal apps like Facebook and Lightflow. I just used my phone like normal.

Other Stuff

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The Photo Sphere interface got even better. It now points you towards the closest blue dot with a white arrow and, when you take a picture, temporarily shows you the available directions with blue dots around your last picture. Very cool.

A lot of stuff I was hoping would get fixed is still broken. The timer still doesn't have Jelly Bean-style buttons in the notification, Voice Actions still sets an alarm when you tell it to set a timer, and the clock app doesn't properly spawn a notification if you skip the dismiss screen. These are minor complaints, though.

Overall, the update changed very little. The improved battery life is great news, and.... that's about it. Lock screen widgets are so handicapped by the arbitrary 1-per-page limitation and the fact that the unlock methods take up most of the screen, that they really aren't useful.

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

    Could CyanogenMod or another custom ROM (Paranoid Android, AOKP etc) fix these issues with the clock app, then add some more features? I'd particularly like to see a feature where if I tap on the clock, it turns into an analog clock or a digital clock (depending on which you have set).

    I'd also love it if CyanogenMod could make the lockscreen better. A ring more like Honeycomb's and the ability to put more than one widget on each lockscreen page which be mega.

  • MrJigolo

    I've noticed better battery life on my Galaxy Nexus as well. Not a huge improvement but on screen time from 2 1/2 hours to close to 3 hours.

    • makapav

      If it's the GSM version of the Galaxy Nexus that you have, you should have always gotten 3 hours of screen-on time otherwise you have an app draining battery.

      • enomele

        Everyone uses the phone differently, an app draining battery wouldn't affect screen on time too much.

  • http://www.youtube.com/kimirPORTALS kimir

    Battery life looks quite good. I can barely get 3 hours out of my Galaxy Nexus.

    • mesmorino

      Something is wrong there. Even the poorest phones last 4-6 hours. Either you're seriously stressing the battery or some app is

      • Scott

        I assume he means 3 hours of screen time. I'm in the same boat as him, on WiFi generally 3 hours is the upper limit of what I see. On 3g/4g, I usually only get 1.5-2 hours of screen on time.

      • http://www.youtube.com/kimirPORTALS kimir

        LTE FTW

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

        Nothing is wrong here. A few hours of battery life is typical for the Verizon Gnex.

        • mesmorino

          Just so we're clear, you're saying that three hours of battery life, with regular use, is normal?

          If that doesn't accurately paint the battery situation for manufacturers I don't know what will. Three hours of battery life would result in an instant return to the store and a permanent aversion to either that brand or that manufacturer probably both..

          • http://twitter.com/NotOnTwittar TopherCZen

            They mean three hours of screen on time.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

            I'm just agreeing with the Kimir and saying that he's not doing anything wrong, nor is his phone broken. A Verizon Galaxy Nexus will die in a few hours. I wasn't commenting on the acceptability of it.

    • moelsen8

      yeah i can't wait. i can take the battery down 10% just walking a few blocks to the store. it's pitiful and i'm so sick of it.

      • Greyhame

        Couldn't agree more. SO SICK of battery paranoia with my VZW GNex. The day I don't have the compulsive urge to look at my battery info screen will be a great day... FREEDOM!!

        I would seriously buy a developer edition of the RAZR if only it had a better camera. Still waiting for all the pieces in one normal sized (< 4.8") phone, those pieces being:

        1) Battery life to last 20-24 hours
        2) Solid camera
        3) Onscreen buttons
        4) 32 GB of built-in storage
        5) Excellent radios
        6) Ability to flash stock Android.

        But hey, first world problems. =)

        • didibus

          I like that list.

        • Aaron Cowles

          have you ever thought about starting phone company? if you could make that under $500 i would buy it in a heart beat

        • cizzlen

          Exactly what I'm looking for!

  • http://twitter.com/chandradithya Adithya Pc

    I can use the volume button on the lockscreen on Galaxy Nexus running 4.2 , Is that supposed to be normal :/

    • onthecouchagain

      You always could.

    • peacekeeper05

      ? You can always use the volune button. LOL

      • catalysto

        Before 4.2, the volume rocker does NOT change the ring volume. It does affect media volume if music is playing though.

    • enomele

      I was actually asking myself that last night. On my GS3 (CM10 4.1.2) I can't change volume on the lock screen, but on my Nexus 7 with 4.2 I can.

  • Treknologist

    The lockscreen widgets are a first implementation for Google. I am certain they will make improvements with further updates. It does not make sense to allow only one widget at a time but, perhaps, as developers update their widgets, one can use combo widgets (say, the Beautiful Widgets clock/weather widget) to get more out of the space we have.

    • didibus

      It'll probably be like the way normal widgets evolved. They started at fixed sized, then became re-sizable, then allowed scrolling, etc. Personally, I feel it would have been cool to have them be read only, then click anywhere on the lock screen and the unlock method would appear over the lock screen widgets. And the widgets would have been able to be laid down just like on the home screen.

      • didibus

        And to add to my idea. Click on any widget and it sends you to the app, but if you have a security lock, it first shows the unlock method to you by overlaying it over the lock screen. But, click outside of widgets, or on the unlock icon, and it brings you to the home screen. Also they need to have it so we can customize the shortcuts on the Google Now thing.

        • Chester Moy

          And to add to my idea. Click on any widget and it sends you to the app, but if you have a security lock, it first shows the unlock method to you by overlaying it over the lock screen.

          If I am reading the article correctly, this is already how it works.

    • Robert Mahon

      With the right widgets place in the right order, you're going to be able to get a horizontal scrolling WP8 UI looking thing. Early days yet, the functionality, as everyone says, is missing some common sense stuff for positioning, but an interesting first attempt. It'll get better I'm sure.

  • Ben Baggley

    Just having the Calendar widget to the left on my lock screen is awesome I think, I no longer have to enter my pin to have a quick glance at my timetable

  • wrxpirate

    I wish the pull down quick settings were actually quick.... like toggles! (and why are some toggles and others not?) I'll just keep to my toggle power widget.

    • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

      Another thing I hope custom ROMs improve: the quick settings. Make them toggles, make it so we can add our own, custom toggles, get rid of the Google+ picture on phones, and make them reorderable. Oh, and make the animation between switching from notifications to quick settings and vice versa better. It's very flat and 2D-looking at the moment.

      • wrxpirate

        agreed. Not sure if touchwiz still does this, but on my old Vibrant you could slide your finger along the notification area to control brightness. (plus they have the toggles on top of the notification pull down)

        • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

          The Galaxy Note LTE did this before the ICS update and it was super handy. Wish this was in vanilla android.

    • Christopher Bement

      I'm using both. Swipe down opens notifications and power toggles, wipe up opens quicksettings only.

  • nsnsmj

    The lock screen widgets are a little half-baked right now, but I see lots of potential. I'm sure Google will definitely sort it out. You know what will be awesome, though? When UCCW gets updated. You'll be able to make some incredible lock screens. There's always WidgetLocker too, though.

  • daguy

    So far, the 4.2 update has been the first Android update that has disappointed me. Other than the swipe addition to the keyboard, every new feature seems half baked and buggy. The lockscreen widgets aren't very elegant, and I really don't like the boxes that flash on the left and right sides of the screen when you turn on the display on. The power control shade is annoying on my Nexus 7, and required too many taps on every device.

    They've also introduced a ton of regression bugs, such as turning the phone to vibrate will now overrule any apps you have set to never vibrate, causing vibration alerts for new email (my phone buzzes non stop now). I also see a lot of bugs with the music controls on the new lockscreen, and even some gchat issues.

    Combined with the mess around the Nexus 4 launch, I'm wondering what is going on over on the Android team. Distracted or maybe overworked?

    I'll likely rolling back to 4.1.2 this weekend (a pain now that I have 2-step authentication) and waiting until this mess is sorted out.

    • peacekeeper05

      imperfections are always to be expected when introducing new features but Google is known for improving and fixing those features. Lock screen widgets is an entirely new approach for them and it could only get better. Anyways, you always have the option of not putting widgets on your lock screen.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/no6969el Noel Barcellos

      I understand how there are some issues but to roll back to 4.1.2?? Seems a little much.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bEEEtoE636k Alberto Antonio Rocha

      After every update of software per say going from 4.1.2 to 4.2 it's recommended to wipe your data, causes issues if you don't sometimes.

  • Greyhame

    What's worse with the lockscreen widgets is that they removed targets. What is the thought behind this? Could it be fear of patent infringement? Honestly curious, because that is a step backwards, IMO.

  • Christopher Bement

    For the battery test, did you have GPS on for Google Now? Or were you really trying to run bone dry and get the highest battery life possible?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      I updated the battery section, have a look. Everything that you would expect to be on was on.

  • http://wave-france.blogspot.com Supercopter

    Good, no regrets for having purchased WidgetLocker :-P

  • SK

    The most annoying part is that clicking on the lock screen widgets will unlock the phone! What's the point of a lock screen with a unlock mechanism if there's an easier way to accidentally unlock the phone (in you pocket, or when you hold it in hand with the screen lock while paying the cashier, etc).

    • didibus

      Good point. I actually forgot about that. I use a security lock, so it's not an issue for me, but you are right, it's way faster to just not have a lock screen at all, have if unlock straight to home screen and have your widgets there. I feel those widgets should have been read only.

  • nguyen2011

    If you can, please update battery (screen on time) if it's still as good after a week of normal use with all your accounts added and sync on. I really want to buy this phone, but the 2h 40m from last review scared me. Then suddenly it's now amazingly 4h 30m, how was that possible? Thanks

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Like I said, it's from the newer software and the battery having cycled a few times. Batteries have some break-in time before they get up to capacity.

  • http://www.bradley.zxq.net/gallery Brad Biederman

    I'm curious as to exactly how the phone was used to get these stats. What was the screen brightness set at, and what was app usage like? Also, I noticed how there was no network signal when these screenshots were taken. Was that the case for most of the day, or not?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      I updated the battery section with more info. Good?

      • http://www.bradley.zxq.net/gallery Brad Biederman

        Yes, much better, thanks. Just one last question though: Are the steep drops caused by benchmarking/gaming, or just general browsing?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

          The 2 that line up with the signal going from red to green to red would be me driving to and from work, which is streaming Pandora over Bluetooth. I got a phone call on my way to work, too.

  • whargharbl

    Lockscreen widgets are pretty useless and clunky as hell. The whole 'you don't even need to unlock your phone to view stuff!' is useless if I still have to swipe left or right every time I want to see some info. If I can unlock my phone with one swipe and immediately see 5 widgets with all the relevant info, which method am I gonna pick ya think?

    • http://twitter.com/NotOnTwittar TopherCZen

      Lockscreen widgets? I'm so bad at this game. . .

  • IncCo

    The best feature is definitely the quick access to the camera.

    • http://thedangerbrain.com/ Alfonso Surroca

      It's no quicker than before, and frankly I find it a little more awkward.
      4.x: Dragging the lock icon to the left.
      4.2: Dragging from the right of the screen.

      • IncCo

        okay so yeah, maybe if you have no security on your phone it doesnt matter.

      • Alex

        That makes no sense, both ways you are dragging to left loll

  • Michael S

    Some developer is going to release a lockscreen app that will be awesome, this is what it'll have to do:

    Let you create collections of widgets for the lockscreen,, and package them as a widget from this new app. Also, let you choose how it look both open and collapsed.

    I'm waiting! To my mind, that would fix everything.

  • Jeremy626

    mmm you have horrible reception. unless you're putting the phone into plane mode.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Nope, that's just T-Mobile.

  • w00ty

    The clock widget does use the expanded widget space if you use the world clock feature of the new clock app :)

    • Justin Swanson

      I had to recreate the widget lock screen to get this.

  • DJ_suMo8

    The N4 is blazin Geekbench at 2125 iPhone 5 at like 1500

  • Josh Legoza

    Ron, thanks for putting this all in a separate article as well as the original review! Really appreciate the extra effort for that!

  • Kumartechno

    Google will loose trust in many markets if they do this(sell devices for far less price in rich countries and make it available in only few so called rich countries). What the hell is happening with them. Here most of the people are getting frustrated with google strategies. If they do not want to release the devises then they should not advertise the products.

  • new_to_android

    Can you actually disable the lock screen widgets once they have been set up? I set up my calendar widget on the lock screen, and now I regret it. I can't figure out how to disable it. Any ideas guys? Thanks!

    • GNEX User

      Just hold it and drag it to the top where it says remove...

  • dirty

    The worst thing is u can still turn the phone off on a lock screen by just holding down the power button and voilà. This phone overheats too. Fix it Google.