An unexpected treat came zooming out of Google HQ today as Android 4.4.4 OTAs and factory images have started rolling out for Nexus devices. The updates have already been posted to AOSP and Al Sutton quickly followed up with a list of the changes. Since 4.4.3 is only 2 weeks old, and I/O is merely a week away, we had a feeling this was just a security update, and it looks like that's all it is.
It looks like Google is putting the last nail in Dalvik's coffin, and the new Android Runtime (ART) is about to take the throne. A pair of commits turned up last night in the master branch of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository that spell certain doom for the Android runtime we've known
and loved for all these years. The first of the two changes completely wipes the /libdvm (Dalvik Virtual Machine) folder from AOSP, and the second takes care of changing all of the relevant configuration files and startup scripts to call on the ART runtime.
Most people familiar with the Nexus program know that each new Android update usually brings with it a new set of driver "blobs" for each supported phone and tablet in the product line. Even though these proprietary binaries are usually the latest versions when they come out, Google still occasionally receives updates to the drivers even when it's not a good time to issue an OTA. As we've just witnessed from the long lead time on the 4.4.3 release, it can take quite a while before an update is rolled out.
Unless you blacked out all of the news from yesterday to avoid a deluge of stories about what has been happening in Cupertino, you probably caught wind that there's a brand new update to Android. Whether you're manually installing the latest OTA or going all out with the factory images, you might be interested to know what is actually different. Thanks to Al Sutton, we've got a brand new changelog compiled from the list of code commits submitted to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).
Following the release of full factory images for all supported Nexus devices, Google has begun pushing Android 4.4.3 to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). The push is ongoing and should be complete within an hour or two.
The build numbers are KTU84M for the Nexus 5 and KTU84L for the rest of the Nexus devices. The AOSP branch is kitkat-mr2-release, with the tag most likely named android-4.4.3_r1 expected to arrive shortly.
Just minutes ago we posted about the discovery of an Android 4.4.3 changelog in AOSP and we've already found some interesting information. Among the individual project repositories, there are a few dedicated to Google-supported devices, mostly those in the Nexus family. In particular, we came across new references to an HTC device codenamed "Flounder," and another device belonging to Google with the name "Molly." This is the first time that these names have appeared in AOSP.
With most versions of Android, we're not used to seeing a changelog until a few hours after the AOSP code has been fully uploaded and somebody has had time to generate a comprehensive list. Imagine our surprise when such a list for KitKat 4.4.3 was discovered simply lying around on Google's servers. The file, named KK-MR2_changelist.txt, is located amidst Android's platform documentation. This is something of a first, since we'll actually learn about what's to come before the code is even available.
Much of Android is open to tinkerers, but Google has gradually closed off more and more of the default functionality. The most awesome aspects of the KitKat dialer - its ability to search for businesses and contacts from within the app - were not included in the open source version. So what's a ROM developer to do? Why, create their own alternative. The OmniROM folks have previously shown off their work, and now the CyanogenMod team has packed similar functionality, albeit seemingly more powerful, into the latest nightlies.
A brand new OTA began rolling out to the 2013 Nexus 7 LTE just two days ago, and today those changes finally appeared in AOSP. As is the tradition, Al Sutton built a list of changes and posted them to his site. Every bug fix and tweak from KOT49H (4.4.2_r1) to KVT49L (4.4.2_r2) is included. There isn't a lot to look at, but if you're interested in what's new, you can find the developer changelog here.
Google has been increasingly transitioning new features in Android to a more closed model. Whether you're talking about music playback, search, or even the dialer, Google's updated apps have features not included in the Android Open Source Project. The developers of OmniROM are looking to make the handy features of the new Google Dialer available without the proprietary bits, so they're working on an integrated phone number directory without Google.