29
Jun
Jelly-Bean-Logo

Wow. Out of the blue, an Android 4.3 rom hits the internet, and it's not built for the Nexus 4, or 7 or 10, but for the Samsung Galaxy S4. What a strange turn of events.

Of course, I couldn't stop myself from diving right in, and while I don't have a Galaxy S4 to show you screenshots, that's really not a big deal, because this leak pretty much looks identically to 4.2. If this build of 4.3 is near completion, it looks like we're getting a pretty minor update. But hey, 4.3 is 4.3. It's worth a look no matter how minor it is.

4.3 is API version 18 and still called "Jelly Bean." This build, for some reason, has the region in build.prop set to South Africa and the language set to Afrikaans. Just where the heck did this come from? 

"af-ZA" (Afrikaans/South Africa) is alphabetically the first ISO 3166-1 code. So nevermind.

The craziest thing about this 4.3 leak is the new Wi-Fi power settings, where what we think of as "off" isn't really "off" anymore.

<string name="wifi_scan_always_available_summary">"Let Google's location service and other apps scan for networks, even when Wi-Fi is off"</string>
<string name="wifi_scan_notify_text_location_on">"To improve location accuracy and for other purposes, Google and other apps may scan for nearby networks, even when Wi-Fi is off. If you don't want this to happen, go to Advanced > Scanning always available."</string>
<string name="wifi_scan_notify_text_location_off">"Apps may scan for nearby networks, even when Wi-Fi is off. If you don't want this to happen, go to Advanced > Scanning always available."</string>
<string name="wifi_scan_always_turnon_message">"To improve location accuracy and for other purposes, %1$s wants to turn on network scanning, even when Wi-Fi is off. Allow this for all apps that want to scan?"</string>

Google wants you to leave your Wi-Fi on, or at least partially on, all the time. Now I know you might immediately scream "MY BATTERY LIFES!!11" but this will probably save battery. Google wants you to leave Wi-Fi on so that apps can get your location, but consider that the other option for location is firing up the GPS chip, which is a battery's worst enemy.

The important thing to keep in mind is this if you hate this, you can turn it off. The option is just buried under an "advanced" menu. Turning off "Scanning always available" will make "off" for Wi-Fi really be "off."

Some of this wording is rather interesting: "To improve location accuracy and for other purposes." Those "other purposes" probably (that means this is the speculation part) involves shipping that Wi-Fi location data back to Google, which is how the Wi-Fi location service currently functions. The only way to use Wi-Fi hotspots for location data is to build a map of SSID (hotspot name) locations. You do that by running around with a GPS and Wi-Fi chip and virtually stick Wi-Fi pins on a map. I have a feeling we'll now all be updating those Wi-Fi maps for Google, silently, in the background (unless you hit that checkbox). Hopefully they've found a way to do this without killing the battery. I suspect they have.

There really isn't much left to cover in this leak. I'm not going to be able to see any kind of performance improvements in a teardown, so I really have no idea if there's been work there. We know all about the new Camera app, which shipped with the Google Play Edition Devices. Bluetooth LE is included, but we've known about that forever. The Roboto fonts have gotten a tweaking, which Liam expertly covered here. There's one or two new development options, and some other tidbits, but that's about it. Those of us hoping for updates to the clock, Quick Settings, Contacts, Dialer, or any of the other built in apps are out of luck. Nothing says this is a complete build of 4.3, though, so we really have no idea how close this will be to the final version. We'll just have to keep waiting.

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://canerk.com/ Caner Kamburoglu
    • http://www.ScienceProUSA.com SciencePro

      Avoid poor connections is a 4.2 feature.

      • http://canerk.com/ Caner Kamburoglu

        I can't see this on my Nexus 7 :-

        • Alex Martin

          Is it a WiFi Nexus 7? It's meant to stop you connecting to WiFi networks that would slow you down compared to mobile data.

      • Felipe Pimenta

        My Xperia S with 4.1.2 has that feature.

      • Gandalf_Teh_Gray

        I didn't know that, It is under advanced wifi settings.

    • Lee Jarratt

      This is already present in 4.2

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii
    • exadeci

      And it has always been anoying sometimes it would disconnect me with my phone at 1m of the wifi just because of a small packet loss

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Actually, the install certificates is the new option here, as far as I know. Or maybe it's been added by Samsung on 4.2 itself. :P

    • highdiver_2000

      Thank you very much. Those intermittent public WiFi hotspots were driving me nuts.

  • Michael Panzer

    I look forward to all the performance and graphics related improvements that were shown at IO. This could really speed things up. Also the Renderscript compat lib!
    There is a lot for devs to look forward. I am happy with the chrome like it is...

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    af-ZA is the first language/locale alphabetically, so it was probably just not set or set to the first available value: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/7973023/what-is-the-list-of-supported-languages-locales-on-android

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

    With any luck, this means the Maps and Navigation apps will never again pop up a dialog to ask users to turn on Wi-Fi.

    (yes, I know it can be disabled after the first appearance, but it would be better if it didn't appear at all.)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      That is exactly right.

    • ReyMaxwin

      I have been begging for this. When playing ingress you want good location and stable data, wifi provides good location, but horrible data when jumping hotspots in a university/corporate setting.

  • erikiksaz

    I wonder how waze will tie into all of this network location stuff.

    • John Vines

      It's too soon for any of that

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    This new setting is perfect. I bet it uses a lot less power than the current Wi-Fi mode in its enabled state and resolves the reason why I always advocate to leave Wi-Fi on, especially when you're not home and don't have it connected to a network.

    The power savings that resulted from apps that need coarse positioning instead of exact positioning and ended up turning on GPS is going to be great. Plus, combined with the new shared location APIs that were unveiled at Google I/O, getting location, which is a notorious battery killer, is going to be pretty much not a problem anymore.

    • Michael Panzer

      This will be perfect for Geo fences :-)

    • Nevi_me

      True true Artem.
      I also leave the Wi-fi on, even though I use it about 30% of the time on a weekend days. It also avoids the nags from some apps asking for Wi-fi to get better location.

      Don't care much if Google's *mining data* as that's how Wi-fi location works anyways. Though I have a portable Wi-fi modem, Google sometimes reports my location as being at home (since it's there half the time). Would be interesting to see if they've applied some fancy algo's to track that, cos as long as my SSID is nearby, location might be incorrect (provided there aren't other fixed hotspots).

    • HebeGuess

      For instace with the new setting applied, capturing any single message/packet coming out from AP would suffice. However, they are usually multiple APs around..

    • exadeci

      Same tought and I think that ios has this already and it was missing
      on android (on my old 3gs the loc was instant so too fast for a gps loc
      but not for a wifi loc)

    • http://shanked.me/ Shank

      The reason why I turn wifi off is convoluted: my work network has a really poor connection, but sometimes I need it so that I can actually use my phone (because of dead spots). As a result, every location app nags that wifi is off - but I want it off so I can have a sane internet connection.

      This is a perfect solution to that.

      • Chad Vincent

        Let's hope the toggles (Power Bar, Quick Settings, etc) become 3-way, too. "On/Location-only/Off"

  • Виктор Манчев

    Yeah "other purposes" will probably make my Nexus 10 run out of memory even faster... Still not a word from Google about fixing one of their flagship devices.

  • Heon Jun Park

    Just make an updated Nexus 7 and take my money......

  • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

    What About that "SE Linux" Info in Settings? It is something new and nobody got time for that...

    • bungadudu

      Se Linux is not new. I've got it on my S4. (4.2.2)

  • Matt McKee

    For the link to the article covering the development options, you linked to Android Central's mobile site.

  • Zargh

    Looks like the 4.3 notification bar is smart enough to detect when a lockscreen widget is using Clock APIs and intelligently show/hide the time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=5xTXhVnnXlY#t=31s

    Its a mystery why the size of the digital clock widget in the video randomly shrank though. Vengeful Touchwiz spirits running loose in the GPe beta build?

    • RamitSuri

      Well no... 4.2 already has that intelligence.. I checked it just now.. :P

      • Mungo

        I'm running 4.2.2 on a Nexus 4 and it does show the time in the notification bar on the lockscreen.

        • Michael Ta

          yea you might want to get "lockscreen policies" from the app store. Good tweak whether you're rooted or not. It'll hide the clock in notif bar.

          • Guest

            It already does that on 4.2.2. Lockscreen with clock- time not shown in status bar. Lockscreen other than clock- time is shown in top right corner.

          • RamitSuri
          • Ksampsondavis

            Whoa what weather extension for dash clock widget is that?? Looks kind of like eye in the sky, but different.

          • RamitSuri

            No Dashclock... It's cLock.. CM default..

    • Android wins!

      Had that on 4.2.2 already.

    • Marcell Lévai

      Also: the S cover works with this version, yay! :)

  • Nee Austin

    My theory from pre-I/O May seems more likely every day. 4.3 is already released to the major manufacturers under NDA. 5.0 will also be released to major manufacturers well before announcement to give them time to upgrade the flagships. Thus greatly reducing the complaint that upgrades always happen very late for the top selling phones.

    Why? This is the perfect time...Android has caught up and surpassed iOS. They can take a public release pause and address one of the biggest complaints. Hopefully also carrying a whip to get them to agree to better release schedules for the privilege of getting in early. This would definitely make Samsung very happy. HTC however, well, clearly they have internal development issues when they release a 4.1 phone (no matter how great it is). The other major players who care about upgrading will also be very happy.

    • Nevi_me

      Agreed, and when thinking about it, it's the most logical step to let OEMs catch-up. Especially when that's what the Android team intended to do (as mentioned in 2012 I/O).

      There'll always be leaks, which are normally a good thing for those avid Android devs. I guess it's indirectly similar to Apple's beta program, when Android versions are *un*fortunately leaked into the wild before announcement.

    • Christian Mello

      This may be true, but you're forgetting that this seriously undermines developers' ability to capitalize on the new features of a new version of Android before it's released on most phones (on just Nexus devices, say).

      On the other hand though, those new improvements could already be a part of the Google Play Services API...

  • Humberto Hernandez

    This 4.3 update could have been easily 4.2.3 dont you think? So far, this is a very, very minor update...

    • Mike Reid

      Bluetooth LE was promised an API level update to API level 18.

      So I'll guess an API level upgrade required a +0.1 .

      • XBIRDIE98

        Previously, with 4.0.3, they increased the API with minor changes and a minor release, as well as the 2.0.1 release, but I believe that this case might be either a marketing setup or that they simply wish to signal an API change with the version number. Probably the latter.

      • highdiver_2000

        Needs new phone and/or gadget hardware to take advantage of Bluetooth LE.

    • Justin W

      Someone else in a 4.3 thread suggested that the general update numbers for some manufacturers is something like this: [major update].[maintenance update].[bug fix]. It would stand to reason that, based on this theory (which helped me understand it a bit more), this update would be 4.3 instead of 4.2.3. Sorry, I don't have a source :(

      • Albin Hermansson

        This wouldn't really make sense though... 4.1 was NOT a maintenance update according to me, i mean Project Butter, Google Now, (Google music?), and a lot of other great things like improved notifications etc.

        • Justin W

          I guess that's true. I don't think Google truly knows how it want's to classify each release though. IMO, Cupcake through Froyo should have been 1.5-1.9, GB 2.0+, ICS 3.0, etc. I don't think JB was truly a major update (i'd classify a major update as a redesign of the UI, but backend updates like Butter/Now could be included in that).

  • mrflipnote

    There have been updates to the Gallery's editing features! Though I'm not sure whether you guys featured this one in the new Camera's overlook... Google've changed the "edit" icon in the first place, as well as the way you crop photo's, and the confirmation of an edit. Oh, and I believe they've added a set of new frame's, though I'm not sure since I never really used those frames (I find them horrible).

    • selonmoi

      They haven't added an option to resize, have they? I'm so tired of needing a separate, klunky, ad-filled app just to provide this one function, which obviously should have been built in from the start.

    • Simon Belmont

      I noticed that too in a video. The edit icon used to be those three circles and now it's a pencil.

      Good catch on the other stuff. I haven't been able to delve into this because I don't have a Galaxy S4.

      • mrflipnote

        You can download the APK on any device, I think. I did so on my Galaxy Nexus. You can find the link somewhere on Android Police or Droid-Life (I tried to search for it, but couldn't find it).

    • Marcus Townsend

      They also added location editing (in other words, you can specify settings/changes for multiple individual spots). It in the 4th tab group.

      They've also made a tiled background, and changed the tablet (landscape) layout. For tablets it gives a bigger preview on the right instead of showing history.

      • mrflipnote

        Haha, I kinda missed out on those. And, to be honest, I added a lot to that comment of mine already seconds after I'd posted it.

  • Brian Walker

    I literally never turn off wifi unless I know I'm going to get better reception OTA than from the local connection. I've been doing this since my Fascinate, on to my Thunderbolt, then my Galaxy Nexus, and now my Nexus 4, and I've never seen a hit on my battery from it.

    • RVM3

      Huh? That's absolutely ridiculous- the only way you haven't seen it is if you've perpetually been in rapid-drain mode.

  • Leonardo

    On my device wifi, and GPS are always on... so, no difference...

    • Joris Griffioen

      There will be if GPS is not used. GPS on means apps are allowed to use it, not that it is permanently locating (if so I'd like to see your batterylife..)

  • Dude!

    Pretty sure someone will try sue google on privacy concerns if this wifi thing is an opt-out instead of an opt-in.

    • Simon Belmont

      Why? All it's doing is IDing SSIDs that are in Google's database and then linking that to location coordinates for location services.

      It's not revealing the SSIDs or location coordinates to the user. No privacy is being breached here.

      • RVM3

        No, it's doing it tied to your person.

  • samz

    Nsa spying? The average user ( like my mom) would not know about this

  • Simon Belmont

    Agreed. This isn't technically ALWAYS scanning, but it lets Wi-Fi scan for Wi-Fi access points for a more battery efficient way of gathering location data.

    Getting even a RELATIVELY accurate location via this method is a win-win. You get battery efficient location data even without GPS, or it helps the GPS more quickly pinpoint your location because you've already let the Wi-Fi scanning do most of the work for it, thus even more battery savings.

  • NikhilW

    The Bluetooth! Thankfully it is fixed! I use a mw600 and it is irritating that my Nexus can't show me a thing on its screen but my old S2 could!

  • Tiuri

    Does this sync with a fitbit or a polar H7 without special Samsung drivers? As it should with BLE?

  • foreigner

    other purposes like NSA?

  • Android wins!

    I hope there are also performance improvements, because 3D games performance sucks on JB based custom ROMs on my device.

    • Stacey Liu

      Key term being "custom rom." I'm assuming your device doesn't have official AOSP support, so the devs are probably using dirty hacks to get the graphics drivers from the skinned framework working on AOSP, and compromising performance as a result.

      • Android wins!

        I'm not sure. It's a 2 year old HTC Desire S. The official CM support ended with CM 7 but there are plenty of unofficial CM, AOKP ports that don't have good 3D performance. So maybe you're right. This answers the question I have since January(my first custom ROM).

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          Could it have something to do with it being a 2 year old phone and the 3D games are getting much more sophisticated.

          • Android wins!

            Nope. I play Real Racing 3 running gingerbread without a single lag, even after increasing the graphics quality through a special app.

  • TheSchwartz

    Could be that there's more enhanced reporting to the NSA and other parties, that behave as if they want to destroy democracy.

    Think if this from Benjamin Franklin...
    Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

    • Ali Abidrahmani

      Okay then,disable it

      "if you hate this, you can turn it off."

      Last I heard no one stops you from doing that,you may even install CM and refrain from installing Google Apps.

  • GOGOI DANUT

    Dear Android 4.3 the only thing i want from you is performance !!!! :D...

    • Rockwell mellow

      And battery improvements...

  • Rockwell mellow

    I don't understand the point? Does it mean WiFi will still be on when on mobile data and not near WiFi hotspots? I

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    "I have a feeling we'll now all be updating those Wi-Fi maps for Google, silently, in the background" We have been doing that for years.... as seen here: "Open Google Maps on an Android 2.0+, Windows Mobile, or Symbian S60 phone and enable GPS. While Maps is simultaneously connected to a GPS satellite and a cell tower or WiFi router, you will be providing updated anonymous geographic data for the cell tower or WiFi router to which you're connected. Please note that this data is anonymous and may require a significant amount of data from you and other users before changes are made to Google's location database." http://productforums.google.com/d/msg/maps/kw4gEPtmrcw/m1EdIJRKLuQJ

  • Stacey Liu

    But what if I shut Wi-Fi as well as Mobile Data + GPS off when I leave my house, and turn the latter two on when I actually need them. Why would I want my device refreshing my location when I'm not doing anything with it? When I flick on the other two, it would only take 5 seconds to get it. (Yes I know I can still do this, but isn't my way more battery efficient than Google's? They difference is user intervention.)

    I've found that even if I disable GPS, Mobile Data wrecks my battery. If I manually control data and turn it off whenever I'm not using my phone, I get a day out of my Nexus 4 with battery to spare. If I just leave it on, even with Auto-Sync off, I get home with a 4% warning.

    • Serge

      Try it when it's released. This feature may cache the database on your phone. Using mobile data to connect to Google wi-fi location servers is not power efficient.

  • http://trapchan.blogspot.com trapchan

    This is good for NSA. They can now tracked all of you in real time ^^

  • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

    Finally! We have this:
    By pressing menu in the phone app, you can now add two-second pauses in
    your dialing string (denoted by a comma) or longer waits (denoted by a
    semicolon.)

    I've been missing that for a while. My old Samsung UpStage from Sprint used to do that. Actually, I'm pretty sure any old feature phone can do that too. Welcome to the 20th century Android lol.

  • Abinav

    Android 4.3 is going to come out with some cool new features...

    Check out:http://tech-storms.blogspot.com/2013/07/android-4.3-comes-with-always-on-wi-fi-and-other-new-features.html

  • highdiver_2000

    +ron amadeo

    "The only way to use Wi-Fi hotspots for location data is to build a map of SSID (hotspot name) locations. You do that by running around with a GPS and Wi-Fi chip and virtually stick Wi-Fi pins on a map. I have a feeling we'll now all be updating those Wi-Fi maps for Google, silently, in the background (unless you hit that checkbox). Hopefully they've found a way to do this without killing the battery. I suspect they have."

    I guess you have not heard of Skyhook Wireless? I believe there was a law suit between Google and them.

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