On October 31, 2013, Google finally fully unveiled the new Nexus 5 by LG, along with Android 4.4 KitKat. Still, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, LG Nexus 4, 2012 ASUS Nexus 7, and Samsung Nexus 10 are all still sitting at Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Seriously, Google – what the hell?
While initially the Nexus line was created as a “gold standard” of sorts, almost exclusively for Android developers, its appeal has broadened quite extensively. While some may argue that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus was a disaster in the hands of Verizon and Sprint, it accomplished one very important thing: it got a subsidized Nexus phones into a ton of people’s hands at a very low cost of entry, thereby introducing lots of “everyday” people to stock Android.
The LG Nexus 4 continued this tradition, except LG and Google were able to deliver a high end device with an amazing experience at an incredibly low unsubsidized price, starting at only $299. The first generation ASUS Nexus 7 also had an almost breathtakingly low cost of entry: $199.
In other words, the Nexus line has evolved into a line that has a reputation for quality, low cost, and – most relevant today – fast updates. It’s not only developers who are buying these phones and tablets, but regular people who just appreciate all that the Nexus device line is all about, without all the carrier and manufacturer bloat.
In the past, when Google announced major updates to Android, it made those updates available practically immediately – while not all devices received OTA updates right away, at least factory images always went live almost right after the announcements took place (see these previous posts about Android 4.2 and Android 4.3, in case you need a reminder). This has been going on for so long, that most people take it for granted: Nexus = fast and immediate updates.
So what the hell is going on now? Why has it been ten days since KitKat was announced, and there’s still no word, no timeline, not even a hint as to when the update will hit existing devices? (And if you happen to own a Galaxy Nexus, it looks like you’re S-O-L, even though Google is touting Android 4.4 as being able to run on extremely low end devices, which the Galaxy Nexus definitely isn’t.)
As it looks now, if you want Android 4.4, you’ll have to root and run a custom ROM. This seems like the anti-thesis of what the Nexus line is all about, and I’m incredibly disappointed by this. With any hope, this post will become outdated by tomorrow – but with how Google has been conducting itself lately, I wouldn’t hold my breath.