What’s new in Android 4.4.3 KitKat

Now that Android 4.4.3 is available for some devices, it’s time to take a look at new features an improvements. For the most part the update is about bug fixes and security enhancements, which isn’t surprising when Google only bothered to change the version number from 4.4.2 to 4.4.3.

But there are a couple of more visible changes including a new phone Dialer app, an updated People app, and more.

443 dialer

Android 4.4.3 factory images and binaries are available for the latest Google Nexus phones and tablets, and the software is starting to roll out to users in over-the-air updates.

Here are some of the things you can expect to see if and when you get the new OS:

  • The Dialer app has a light color scheme instead of dark.
  • You can also rearrange contact cards in the Dialer.
  • Google has also updated the People app with colorful icons for contacts that have no pictures (just like you’d see in the Gmail app).
  • You can now pause downloads of additional game files for large games from the Play Store.

Some users are also noting improvements for specific devices. For instance Nexus 5 users report that there’s no longer an audio hiss when recording videos, WiFi performance is more consistent, and the mm-qcamera-daemon bug which had caused the camera to drain battery on some devices some of the time seems to have been fixed.

443 kitkat

While it looks like Google plans to limit write access to the /system partition for rooted devices (unrooted devices never had support for writing to /system) in a future version of Android, that security feature hasn’t made it into Android 4.4.3.

Note that if your device is rooted, updating to Android 4.4.3 will remove your root access. If you have a Google Nexus phone or tablet, it’s pretty easy to re-root though. I recommend using a tool like WugFreshs’s Nexus Root Toolkit unless you’re pretty comfortable with command line tools.

  • Taomyn

    “Installing the update will remove root access on any devices that are rooted…” simply not true, if you have a decent root app like SuperSU. I just upgraded my Nexus 5 and root was just fine afterwards.

    • Azaraith

      I’ve tried updating my HTC One GPE twice. First time I just uninstalled Xposed, flashed stock recovery, and left SuperSU alone and it just wiped the phone back to factory (including erasing everything on the “SD card”, including my backup). I pushed the backup using ADB to the phone again and restored it, then went for round 2 by unrooting completely (as well as the other steps) and then it updated fine. Of course re-flashing the SuperSU zip file (latest version) seemed to work, but the SuperSU app didn’t show up and root apps simply froze at the root permissions prompt (it never showed up, one app went black screen on me and the other froze at “requesting root access”). Sigh… Restored my nandroid again and then just unticked notifications for Google Play Services (to remove the OTA notification) and said eff it. I’ll just wait to update once things are worked out a little better. Somewhat frustrating though that a simple update messed things up… I’d stay unrooted if it weren’t for Xposed and Adaway (mostly to avoid 30 second shampoo ads whenever I want to watch a YouTube video… A paid version would be preferable to wasting my time on shyte ads).

    • David McShane

      I agree with you. I’m running Philz Touch Recovery (CWM Advanced Edition), and Chainfire’s SuperSU, and kept root.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/RolandDeschain79?feature=mhee RolandDeschain79

      I believe they’re talking about write access on the device. Google has limited where apps can write to and its been effecting lots of apps especially when using the SDcard. This was introduced with Kitkat.

      http://www.androidpolice.com/2014/02/17/external-blues-google-has-brought-big-changes-to-sd-cards-in-kitkat-and-even-samsung-may-be-implementing-them/

    • Taomyn

      No I didn’t mis-read the article, if you do it correctly you don’t lose
      root – period. I just remembered to enable “survival mode” in SuperSU (I
      forgot this for 4.4.2), performed the upgrade, rebooted and root wasn’t
      affected.

      • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

        Yeah, sorry, I removed that line from the article after this was confirmed, which might make this comment thread look a little odd.

        Incidentally, it’s probably worth pointing out that survival mode isn’t enabled by default, and if you’ve got xposed framework installed, you need to uninstall it or the update will fail… But you can reinstall it as soon as you’re finished.

  • duffer

    upgraded this morning. beauty!

  • Haris

    Thats it?
    I mean its still a blessing to get frequent updated compared to other flagships, but It’s rather unexciting to see that a long awaited update has so much less to offer.

  • JJW618

    Looks like nothing in it for me, I rarely record video, so the hiss is not a selling point. My wi-fi has been fine, but improvements are always welcome.
    As for the dialer and the people app? I ditched those ugly ass things about 10 minutes after I tried to make my first call on my phone…exDialer for the win, beats Google’s attempt to make everything uniform with those big ugly tiles hands down. If I want big ugly tiles I’ll get a windows phone.
    I did lose root, despite Taomyn’s claim, I use SuperSU… but rooting again is no big deal.

    • Kartiké Bhagat

      I think everyone loses root, but when some people read this, they interpret it as “un-rootable”. I had to re-flash SuperSU as well.

  • Armando

    Now if they could address the horribly low headphone-output volume on the (Nexus 5) specifically, that would be bitchin.

    • David McShane

      My old S3 is way better off after I installed Viper4Android. I seriously tried tons of crappy, ineffective “toys”, and none gave me any improvement, until I set this up. Same situation on my old DV7 laptop. I installed their app on my Win7_64 and it’s also incredibly better.

    • oweniverson

      trust me, you’ll appreciate it in 10-20 years.

  • ChicagoBob

    You loose your ext SD card accces via the network and ESFile manager. Thats what you loose. So if you want to use a NAS or edit and save a downloaded document you are hosed unless you ROOT your phone and then loose your waranty.