Google Pushes Android 4.4.2 To Nexus Devices

KitKat update makes significant camera improvements and bug fixes to Nexus smartphones and tablets.

Eric Zeman, Contributor

December 10, 2013

3 Min Read
Google Nexus 5

Google began pushing Android 4.4.1 to the Nexus 4, 5, 7, and 10 last week. There was a small problem with the update, however, as it introduced several glitches. The 4.4.1 update was squelched, and Google replaced it with Android 4.4.2. Devices that had not yet received the 4.4.1 update will now leapfrog it and head straight to 4.4.2.

What does this minor system update offer? Plenty -- at least for one of the Nexus devices.

Most of the improvements are focused on the Nexus 5's camera. One of the Nexus 5's major faults is the camera software. The sensor itself is decent. With the stock Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, the camera was slow to focus, slow to capture photos, and often produced images that were washed out. Google said that it relied too heavily on the optical image stabilizer to keep things in focus and made shutter times too long (on average). The resulting photos were soft and not necessarily clear.

Reviews of the Nexus 5 were right to call out the camera for being so crummy. Google took the drubbing to heart. It spent the better part of a month working to alter the camera software so that it would perform well on the Nexus 5.

For starters, the camera application now launches about one second faster than before. This means Nexus 5 owners have a better chance of catching that important shot. Google's engineers improved the frame rate of the camera, which in turn improves the autofocus function. The camera now focuses much faster and shoots/saves images faster. Faster to launch and faster to shoot is great news for Nexus 5 owners.

[Apple's software model means iOS devices get updates faster than Androids. See iOS 7 Adoption Rate Wallops Android 4.4 KitKat.]

Google also added a progress indicator to the HDR+ mode. The indicator lets Nexus 5 owners get a better idea of just how long their HDR shot is going to take. HDR, or high dynamic range, photography takes several exposures and merges them in order to balance out high-contrast shots. In other words, photos that have really bright and really dark areas will be more balanced. With HDR+ mode, Nexus 5 owners will see a progress bar so they know how long to hold the phone still while it captures the necessary shots.

Other tweaks to the camera boost colors and contrast, as well as make improvements to white balance. Photos are also less washed out than before and look more vibrant.

For devices other than the Nexus 5, Android 4.4.2 mainly fixes a few bugs. The software is being pushed out over the air gradually, but impatient types can download and install the update manually as long as they have a little command line know-how.

Consumerization 1.0 was "We don't need IT." Today we need IT to bridge the gap between consumer and business tech. Also in the Consumerization 2.0 issue of InformationWeek: Stop worrying about the role of the CIO. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights