If you have one of three Samsung devices on Sprint, you might just have an over-the-air update waiting for you in your Settings menu. But don't get too excited: not a one of them brings a new version of Android, or even more than one or two new visible features. The Galaxy S III and Galaxy S5 Sport (AKA the S5 Active) phones and the Galaxy Tab 4 (the 7-inch version) all have tiny additions to their software going out today.
Update, January 11th, 2015: Verizon has issued another update alert for the Galaxy Note 4.4.4. This one also updates the phone to 4.4.4 and includes the same changelog, but for some reason the build number is changed to N900VVRUDNK1. Whether or not there was a problem with the original rollout, we can't say, but it appears to be continuing.
No, it's not Android 5.0. There, we've got that over with.
Good news, owners of the AT&T variants of the Galaxy Mega 2 and Galaxy Tab S 8.4: your Samsung gadgets are getting a software update! Bad news, same people: you're probably not going to notice or care about the things contained within. The Galaxy Mega 2 gets "user interface enhancements" and the addition of the AT&T Messages Backup Service, and the Tab S only gets "revised link management handling in Calendar." Try to contain your enthusiasm.
Raise your hand if you like carrier apps added to your phone. Anyone. Go ahead, don't be shy. Well if you don't, here's a great example of why companies like AT&T should leave the software alone. An over-the-air update to 4.4.4 for the carrier-customized version of the Galaxy Note 3 was sent out on November 28th, then unceremoniously pulled. A previous message on the support page explained why:
Here's something you don't see every day. American carriers AT&T and Verizon both offer the fourth-generation models of the Galaxy Tab 8.0 and 10.1, and this weekend, they're each updating both versions. That indicates some kind of coordinated effort on the part of Samsung's software engineers... or a remarkable coincidence. In any case, owners should start seeing the over-the-air updates come in today, though some will have to wait a few more days.
LG's G Pad 8.3 is, at least for the moment, the company's most high-end tablet available on Verizon's proprietary CDMA/LTE network. Today this carrier-specific model (VK810) gets a small software update to address one big user issue, one small carrier issue, and an outdated app. The latter is the Redbox streaming video app, formerly supported by Verizon, and now out of service. The latest update removes the RedBox app completely.
AT&T's Samsung tablet lineup is getting a couple of small updates, but it probably won't be all that interesting unless you've got a very specific need for carrier billing or kid-friendly content. The AT&T branded versions of both the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 and the Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 (good grief, Samsung, your names are a mouthful) are receiving minor updates to their firmware. Neither one boosts the Android software on the tablets (4.4.2), but they do add a few tools.
If you own a Sharp Aquos Crystal on Sprint, you've got an update on the way. According to Sprint, there are quite a few bug fixes as well as some new bloatware added, such as Sprint's new premium caller ID service that lets you see a caller's name as well as their phone number, and integration with Yahoo's Communications Suite.
The new update bumps the firmware version to SA300 and is still based on Android 4.4.2/KitKat.
Remember last night, when we were excited about the Galaxy S5 getting its Android 5.0 update already, at least in Poland? That was nice. Let's try to hang on to that warm, comforting feeling while we face this cold fact: a combination of lowered expectations for non-flagship devices and good old US carrier apathy means many Android owners won't be so lucky. For example, the Galaxy S4 Zoom on AT&T is just now getting its update to Android 4.4, more than a year after the release of both KitKat and the phone itself.